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Psychological Therapies

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Psychological Therapies:
Psychological Therapies, or Psychotherapies, are forms of treatment which involve talking to a trained therapist in order to help you overcome your difficulties.   Within all the different modalities of psychological therapy, it is generally agreed that it is the relationship between therapist and client which most influences the progress and outcome of therapy.

Some of the most common therapies are briefly described below:

Behavior Therapy:

The way we feel influences the way we behave.  If we can therefore learn to behave differently in a particular situation, this will help to reduce the difficult feelings.  Particularly useful for anxiety related problems.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy(CBT): 

Similar to Behaviour Therapy, but in addition to looking at how our feelings affect our behaviour, CBT looks at the links between our thoughts (cognitions), feelings and behaviour.  If we can change the way we think about something, this will help us change the way we feel, and the way we behave.Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy  (MBCT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) are part of the new or "third wave"  Cognitive & Behavioural Therapies.


Involves the client talking about their difficulties with a counsellor, who plays a listening and supportive role, and may sometimes provide practical advice on problem-solving.  Person Centred Counselling or Psychotherapy is based upon the work of Carl Rogers, who advocated the establishment of a therapeutic relationship between client and therapist, which includes genuineness, unconditional positive regard (non-judgemental), empathic understanding and active listening.  It is these attributes of a client-therapist relationship upon which all other modern psychotherapies are based.

Systemic Therapy(Family Therapy): 

This therapy focuses on how people get on as part of a group or system. This is often their immediate family but might also include their community or school/workplace. Systemic therapists often see problems as being in a group of people (or 'system') rather than in one person (the client).   If you see a systemic therapist you may, but not necessarily, see them with other members of your family or social group.

(Brief) Solution Focused Therapy (BSFT): 

Solution focused therapy is a talking therapy that is brief and effective. It can be brief because it is future-focused and because it works with the strengths of those who come by making the best use of their resources, and it can bring about lasting change precisely because it aims to build solutions rather than solve problems.   Rather than focusing on a person's problems, the therapist and client work together to identify the goal, what the client want to achieve, then use various techniques to reach that goal.

Group Therapy:

Several people with similar problems meet together. Group Therapy can vary, with the group facilitators or leaders using any of the therapies listed above.  Most group therapies last 1 - 1.5 hours, for weekly sessions.  Some groups are 'closed' - being attended only by those who are invited, and no new members can join.  Closed groups run for a certain amount of time, normally several weeks.  Open groups are those that are run at the same time each week, and are open to anyone to join at any time (although group members are expected not to be late for the start of a session, nor leave early).

Some group therapies can be 'led' by a group leader, perhaps in an educational-type method, or in Inter-Personal Group therapies (Yalom), the group itself is the therapist.  The group member gains (Yalom's Curative or Therapeutic Factors): support from other group members, the installation of hope, ability to identify with others and lessen feelings of being alone, exchange of information, help each other (each group member gains from giving as well as receiving), the group can resemble a family and the group members take on various roles which all can discuss and provide feedback on, improve social and interpersonal skills, trust and open-ness.

Group CBT is time-limited and usually psycho-educational. 


Hypnotherapy is simply a method of deep relaxation, which enables the therapist to use any of the psychotherapeutic approachesin a more effective way.   In a deeply relaxed state, our conscious mind - whilst still being aware of what is happening, being said, and being fully able to 'wake up' - is less likely to resist the therapy with negative thoughts.  The subconscious mind is also more receptive to the therapeutic intervention, which it is considered makes therapy more effective.

Cognitive Analytical Therapy  (CAT):

This approach draws on psychoanalytic as well as cognitive techniques. A structured and focused framework is used to encourage patients to understand the origins of their attitudes and beliefs, and the effect they have on present feelings and behaviour in order that change may occur.

Transactional Analysis(TA):

Founded by Eric Berne, this approach uses what have become relatively well-known models such as 'life scripts' and 'ego-states' (parent, adult, child) to help a client gain insight and control over their behaviour and lives.

Constructivist Therapies:

This approach is based on the theory that we construct our own ideas of the world through our experiences.  These 'constructs' affect what we do, believe, think and feel.

Humanistic Psychotherapy:

Influenced by Carl Rogers, Humanistic psychotherapy includes client-centred and Gestalt approaches.  It helps increase a person's self-awareness, and their ability to take control over their lives and make positive choices about their current and future lives.

Integrative Psychotherapy:

Some therapists prefer to use a multi-dimensional model which uses relevant and effective techniques from other approaches.

Gestalt Therapy:

Based upon the theory that the whole of a person's experience - thoughts, emotions, body sensations - is important.  Founded by Fritz Perls, it focuses more on the 'here and now' or the process rather than the content of what is happening or being discussed.

Narrative Therapy:

This approach is based on the theory that we make sense of our lives through stories or narratives, which may be either positive or problematic.  Narrative therapy aims to help people re-author their lives.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP):

NLP consists of a wide range of methods and models for understanding how people think, behave and change. It offers a flexible approach which brings about positive, fast change in individuals and empowers us to adapt to an ever-shifting world.   NLP is about communication, language and enables us to  re-programme our minds quickly and effectively.   It uses techniques such as "the swish", "the fast phobia cure", and "anchoring".


Psychoanalysis is a form of talking therapy based originally on the work of Sigmund Freud. If you see a psychoanalyst this may feel very different from the therapies described above. The therapist will allow you to talk and bring feelings to the surface, allowing you to understand them, in the light of your unconscious wishes, desires and conflicts, which your conscious mind has been trying to protect you from. 

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy:

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is very similar to psychoanalysis, as it looks at emotional problems as being due to the individuals' unconscious conflicts and desires, but it is less Freudian in its approach.