Navigating all the options – what type of therapy is right for me?
According to GoodTherapy, there are over 100 types of therapy out there! How do you know which type is right for you? Choosing the right mental health professional(s) to work with is a very individual decision and can be different depending on your needs at the current moment in your life. Below we outline a few broad types of therapy that may be worth learning about so that you consider whether they may make sense for you. Remember that there are lots more out there as well!
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (“CBT”)
CBT is what you might think of when you think about what a therapy session looks like – the therapist asks the patient a series of questions to understand their current problems and provides them guidance and direction to help identify actionable solutions for the patient to better manage those problems on their own. The goal is to help the person to manage their challenges on their own in the future.
The therapist uses a combination of cognitive therapy (therapy that is driven by what you’re thinking) and behavioral therapy (therapy that is driven by what you’re doing) to understand your feelings. The basic idea is that there is a close connection between our thoughts, our behaviors, and our feelings, and that by focusing on your current thoughts and behaviors, the mental health professional can better understand your current problems.
CBT is commonly used to treat anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (“OCD)”, and addictions. It is sometimes used alone, and sometimes in conjunction with prescribed medications.
I know what you may be thinking – psychoanalysis is just nonsense invented by Freud! I’m not in love with my father! But hear us out. Psychoanalysis is actually still commonly used today for many cases where someone’s past is impacting their current feelings and behaviors. And while we don’t often think of psychoanalysis when we think about perinatal or post-partum depression, it’s actually been studied with pregnant women with perinatal depression (depression during pregnancy) as well, and its use appeared to result in lower scores on the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale.
Psychoanalysis is an intensive means of therapy and is considered psychodynamic, meaning that the therapist may jump in and out of use and while many work with patients multiple times per week, some also see patients only once per week. It is used mostly to help people who have challenges that they have been dealing with for a long time, often since childhood, that may be impacting the way they behave today.
Much of psychoanalysts’ work is, like the word suggests, analysis of the patient’s challenges. But the process itself is much less directional than CBT, allowing the patient to really own their own storytelling and sharing of their experiences.
If you’ve read a self-help book (this is a no-shame zone! Self help books can be wonderful tools) you’re probably familiar with humanistic psychology already, even if you don’t yet know it. Humanistic psychology is rooted in a focus on realizing one’s own spirituality and becoming more self-aware and mindful in order to overcome psychological challenges.
Where many other types of therapy focus on other people in the patient’s life, humanistic psychology re-focuses the patient inward, to focus on herself, on a journey toward “self-actualization”.
Therapists practicing humanistic psychology tend to be somewhat directive in their approaches, but also be open and non-judgmental to allow the patient to come to her own feelings of acceptance. Many people also practice humanistic approaches to therapy through self-help groups and peer counseling as well.
Coaching is actually not really therapy at all. It’s more support and guidance in reaching your goals. However, a lot of people can benefit from a coach to bolster their abilities in certain areas, such as life in general, or their career, or their relationship. And yes, even for parenting. We loved this discussion of mental health counseling and coaching by Rachel Mariotti on Medium.
Psychological coaching focuses on guided goal-setting and tends to be pretty short-term in nature. It’s often strengths-based and allows the client to work collaboratively with that coach to improve themselves as a person.
Some psychologists offer coaching services, but there are also a lot of coaches who don’t have as much formal training (and therefore may not cost quite as much to work with). It’s a bit more like the Wild West, since coaches aren’t regulated or overseen in the same way that professional therapists are, so just be aware of that as you assess your coach’s ability to help you with what you need. Some are credentialed by the International Coach Federation or the American Counseling Association if you are looking for a coach with credentials.
With all that said, you should talk to your therapist before starting to work with them to better understand the approach that they use with their patients. Perhaps they use a hybrid of multiple approaches, or have their own spin on one type of therapy that’s a little bit different. We also recommend consulting your doctor before pursuing any of these types of therapy.
What other kinds of therapy have you considered using? Let us know!
Good Therapy. (2020, January 20). Types of Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types.
Kunst, Jennifer PhD. (2020, January 20). What is Psychoanalysis? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/headshrinkers-guide-the-galaxy/201401/what-is-psychoanalysis
Mariotti, Rachel. We can all afford to get tougher. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@rlm469/we-all-can-afford-to-get-tougher-55e4e37d29f0
Nanzer, N., Sancho Rossignol, A., Righetti-Veltema, M. et al. Effects of a brief psychoanalytic intervention for perinatal depression. Arch Womens Ment Health 15, 259–268 (2012) doi:10.1007/s00737-012-0285-z
National Institutes of Health. (2020, January 20). Cognitive behavioral therapy. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279297/
Psychology Today. (2020, January 20). Coaching. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/coaching
Note: Village does not endorse any types of therapy in particular. We promote every woman’s right to self-discovery through whichever resources she finds most useful for herself. It’s your mind, and it’s your choice.