Types of Therapy for Mental Health

Medically reviewed by Dr. Mark Hrymoc, M.D.

Mental health therapy is more accessible today than ever, and the stigma of going to treatment is fading. Over 26 million people struggling with mental health issues are receiving treatment and experiencing success. Reports state that 75% of people in therapy receive benefits.

Most therapists use a combination of the types of therapy for mental health. The more you know about each type, the easier it will be for you and your therapist to choose the best one to deal with your specific issues. Keep reading to learn the clinical definitions of different therapy categories and the techniques under each that may provide successful outcomes for you.

Psychodynamic Therapy for Mental Health

Psychodynamic therapy aims to find the source of your problems by delving into your past. It is believed that unresolved issues from your past are stored in your unconscious mind and reveal themselves in current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of talk therapy proven to be effective for many mental health disorders, including the following:

  • Depression
  • Social anxiety
  • Social phobia
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Relationship issues

You will discuss your past with a therapist to discover why you struggle now. For example, if you were abused as a child and now find it difficult to trust others, you can explore the connection and break it altogether to develop healthy relationships.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavior therapy theorists claim that all behaviors are learned and can be unlearned. Therefore, the unhealthy behaviors you are exhibiting now can be changed. Behavioral therapies are effective with the following:

  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Anger 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Phobias 

The purpose of behavioral therapies is to change your behaviors. Therapists will explore the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If your thoughts are unrealistic, your behavior will be inappropriate. For example, a phobia of snakes will prevent you from going places and participating in otherwise enjoyable activities. Therapists will use behavioral therapies to reduce your fear of snakes.

Examples of techniques to help you change behaviors include exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and rational emotive therapy. In addition, contingency management, desensitization, and behavior modeling are effective.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy has the same premise as behavioral therapy, that thoughts influence behaviors. However, treatment methods focus on changing your thoughts versus your behaviors. The idea is that changing how you think will automatically adjust your responses to various situations. For example, your phobia of snakes is treated by changing your thoughts about snakes, eliminating dysfunctional thinking, and replacing it with rational thinking.

Cognitive therapy is typically combined with behavioral therapies for improved outcomes. It can successfully treat the following disorders:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and phobias
  • Anger
  • Relationship problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Cognitive therapy methods include Rational Emotive Therapy, which teaches you to resolve irrational emotions and beliefs. Also, the ABC Technique of Irrational Beliefs theorizes that each person has an activating event (A) that causes a belief (B) and leads to consequences (C). If A is perceived negatively, B and C will also be negative.

Other damaging habits are negative self-schemas, cognitive distortions, critical evaluations, and the cognitive triad, which starts with negative thinking patterns. The key is to create healthy thinking patterns that lead to healthy behaviors.

What Therapies Treat Trauma?

Trauma is an event or events that causes distress physically, emotionally, or both. Everyone handles trauma differently and may need unique therapies to help them.

Examples of trauma therapies include the following:

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
  • Trauma Resilience Model (TRM)
  • Post Induction Therapy Model (PITM)

Additional types of therapies include the comprehensive resource model (CRM), Internal Family Systems Therapy, Brief Eclectic Therapy, and Cognitive Restructuring. 

What Are Non-Traditional Therapies?

Integrative, or holistic, therapies aim to treat the whole self. Techniques are used simultaneously to improve all areas of a person’s life, including the mind, body, and spirit. Integrative therapies are best combined with other techniques in a comprehensive treatment plan.

Integrative therapies can help treat the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Family communication
  • Substance use disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Trauma
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive disorders

There are hundreds of holistic therapies, all with healing benefits. The most common include breathwork, meditation, hypnosis, yoga, and massage. Some prefer acupuncture, tai chi, grounding, journaling, and prayer.

How Long Do Therapies for Mental Health Take?

Like most activities, what you put into it and your progress determines the time it takes. However, recent studies show that between fifteen and twenty therapy sessions are effective for at least 50% of participants. Co-occurring disorders like mental and substance use disorders may require more extended treatment. 

Rather than focusing on how many sessions it takes, focus on completing the goals you set with your therapist. Reaching goals is the number one determinant of program length.

The various types of therapy for mental health can help you at any stage of a disorder. Call the Mental Health Center today to learn how their treatment types can help you.

Trying to decide which types of therapy for mental health are best for you can be confusing and frustrating. We recommend contacting our staff at the Mental Health Center, who have extensive knowledge of each therapy. They can share how to set up an assessment to determine which treatments will benefit you the most based on your specific needs. Someone is available 24/7 so call anytime.