Choosing a therapy

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We've put together a brief overview of the main approaches...

Does The Type Of Therapy Matter?

The relationship that you form with your therapist is the most important element of successful therapy. The therapeutic approach can also be a factor however, as different styles may fit better with your personality.

Here we've placed approaches into four categories according to their general style: Structured, Exploratory, Integrative and Deep but Brief.

Most therapists are trained in a few approaches and will blend these tools to create a customised therapy that best suits your needs.

Watch: How Therapy Works

The Structured, ‘Here And Now’ Therapies

If you’re a doer who prefers to think about things logically or you like to tackle issues in a practical, ordered fashion you might prefer one of the more structured forms of therapy.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

CBT is based on the premise that our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all interlinked. How we think affects how we feel, which affects what we do. What we do then affects how we feel, which in turn affects how we think.

CBT recognises that we can get locked into vicious cycles, where negative thinking leads to behaviours that have a detrimental impact on our mood and in turn cause us to think more negatively.

Identifying these connections, in particular the negative thoughts that often lie at the root of the issue, can break this vicious cycle. CBT helps you find new ways of thinking and behaving to improve your mood and overall situation.

This approach tends to focus more on the here and now issues, rather than digging into the past and so can be particularly effective in addressing situational depression and anxiety issues.

Solution Focused Therapy

This is a brief therapeutic approach that supports you to find the answers to the problems you're facing, based on your previous experience of tackling similar issues and what strategies currently work for you.

Solution focused therapy supports you to break each issue down into manageable chunks so that you can gradually make the necessary changes to achieve your goals.

Conversations with a solution focused therapist will centre mainly on the current situation and the future that you would like to create for yourself, rather than the symptoms that have brought you to therapy.

You’ll be encouraged to form a clear vision of your desired future and your therapist will then help you to identify the steps you can take to achieve this. It is most useful in tackling fairly discrete, practical issues.

The Deeper, Exploratory Therapies

If you need to get to the roots of an ongoing issue or are interested in developing a deeper understanding of yourself and your relationship patterns, you will probably prefer an approach that offers an open and free-flowing exploration of the issues.

Person Centred Therapy

In person centred therapy, your therapist will invite you to explore your lived experience of yourself and your situation. This approach emphasises that you are the expert in your own life.

You’ll be encouraged to take the lead and your therapist will follow you, asking questions and making reflections, to help you to really get to the heart of the problem.

The fundamental tenet of this approach is that all of us have the capacity to heal and become the best possible version of ourselves.

Your therapist will empower you to tap into this self-actualising ability by always meeting you with empathy genuineness and unconditional positive regard.

Psychodynamic Therapy

The focus here is to unearth the psychological roots of the issues, in order to help you gain greater insight into yourself and your triggers. Greater insight brings greater resilience and in time the ability to make better choices. 

The core theory of this approach is that our sense of self, expectations of life and patterns of behaviour are formed in childhood and thus shaped by our early experiences.

These templates often come from such a young place that they are unconscious. Alongside explorations of your childhood, a psychodynamic therapist may also analyse your dreams and employ creative techniques to bring these unconscious patterns to light.

This form of therapy may be brief or long term.


Psychoanalysis is akin to psychodynamic psychotherapy only deeper and more rigorous.

The theoretical underpinnings are the same i.e. that the roots of long-standing issues lie in our early life and unconscious.

In psychoanalysis you would usually attend between 3 to 5 times per week. This frequency allows the therapy to attain the necessary depth of exploration.

This is a long term approach and it is usual to be under analysis for a number of years.

Existential Psychotherapy

Here the emphasis is placed on the human condition as a whole.

Existential psychotherapy acknowledges that we will all face certain psychological challenges simply as a result of being human e.g. facing mortality, isolation and lack of control.

Exploring the existential anxiety triggered by confronting these universal challenges is the bread and butter of this kind of approach.

You’ll be supported to lean into this anxiety and helped to find acceptance so you can live on fully anyway.

The Integrative Therapies

If you feel you could benefit from both an exploration of the roots of your issue and a structured framework within which to understand yourself, an integrative approach may be the best way forward for you.

TA (Transactional Analysis)

TA provides a readily understandable theory of human behaviour, relationships and communication.

Your therapist will introduce you to the parent, adult and child ego states as an outline of the way we interact both with ourselves and each other.

Throughout therapy you’ll be supported to identify when you are in your parent, adult and child ego states and to develop an understanding of what you’re really seeking from the other person when you communicate like this.

In time, you’ll gain a deeper insight into yourself and your relationship patterns. 

This in turn will help you to start changing any behaviours that have become problematic and to find new, healthier ways of relating.

Schema Therapy

Schema therapy blends tools from CBT, interpersonal, experiential and psychodynamic therapies.

The idea is that our current difficulties are caused by negative patterns of thinking, behaving and relating (schemas) that were formed in childhood.

The therapy has three defined stages that

1. Identify problematic schemas and ways we perpetuate them

2. Make us aware of when these schemas are at play and

3. Support us to break negative patterns

Throughout this process we are encouraged to adopt alternative healthier patterns of thinking and behaving, which in turn alleviate our symptoms.

CAT (Cognitive Analytical Therapy)

CAT is a short term focused therapy that integrates ideas and tools from both CBT and psychodynamic therapies.

Here you will collaborate with your therapist to explore the origins of your more problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviours, in order to find solutions to, and new ways of coping with, your current difficulties.

As it’s a time limited approach, you would usually meet with your therapist on a weekly basis for between 4 to 24 weeks.

IPT (Interpersonal Therapy)

IPT is a brief and structured form of therapy that focuses on relationship patterns and solving interpersonal issues.

Based on attachment theory, IPT recognises that many mental health issues are caused by interpersonal issues and that in turn, poor mental health is detrimental to our relationships, thus creating a vicious cycle.

IPT seeks to break this cycle by identifying the central interpersonal issues, addressing their roots and helping you to make the necessary changes to improve your life.

The Deep But Brief Therapies

If the idea of talking in depth about your difficulties over any significant period of time is off-putting, you may prefer to try a technique that promises to get to the roots of the issues quickly.


EMDR was originally developed to treat trauma. It offers a way of soothing distress without having to delve into the specifics of the traumatic event.

Instead bilateral stimulation (using eye movements or hand squeezing) is used to support you to process the trauma at deeper levels of the psyche. As this is done, you will be invited to let go of the painful feelings.

Through this process the negative thoughts and feelings are replaced with positive ones and the traumatic event becomes less raw.

EMDR can also be useful in treating depression, anxiety and phobias.


EFT works with the meridian energy centres to help you to release the emotional and energetic blockages, believed to lie at the root of many mental health issues.

EFT is known as “psychological acupressure”. It involves the therapist tapping with their fingertips on the energy centres situated just beneath the skin, whilst verbally focusing in on the issue at hand.

As you discuss your difficulties, the therapist may repeat certain sentences to help you to deepen your emotional connection and facilitate an emotional release.

You may also be asked to repeat affirmations to help to challenge and replace any negative thought patterns.


In hypnotherapy, hypnosis (a deep relaxed state) is used to gain access to your subconscious awareness.

This deep state can provide a greater insight into the root causes of your difficulties and be used to remove any negative thought patterns and behaviours.

It can be particularly effective in helping to overcome addictions, phobias and low self esteem.

NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming)

NLP focuses on the connection between how we think, how we communicate and how we behave.

It offers tools to change negative thinking into positive thinking, so that you can conquer any internal blocks and achieve your objectives.

NLP can help you to meet your professional goals and tackle performance anxiety and self confidence issues.

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