Different Types of Psychotherapy

For those dealing with mental health issues, including addiction, depression, trauma, and anxiety, psychotherapy can be an effective form of treatment. Also known as talk therapy or counseling, psychotherapy can help individuals learn more about their conditions and how it impacts their lives, working towards a solution that can build resilience and instill a new approach to coping with difficult situations. 

At Peaks Recovery Centers, we provide a range of psychotherapy programs designed to help address our client’s individual needs. In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of psychotherapy to help you learn how it works and which one could suit you or your loved one.

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a form of treatment in which an individual (or a group in some circumstances) works with a professional therapist to seek help for a condition. Using principles from psychology, psychotherapy works to improve an individual’s mental health by addressing their thoughts, feelings, behaviors and the way they engage with others.

Psychotherapy is known as talk therapy, as talking is at its heart. During conversations with a therapist, individuals will gain deeper insights into why they feel and behave like they do, and develop suitable coping strategies to move forward in a positive way. These sessions are provided in a safe and supportive environment, where clients can express themselves honestly and without judgment, working through the therapy process. 

The main aims of psychotherapy are:

  • Helping to improve the symptoms of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
  • Boost self-awareness and self-esteem.
  • Improve coping skills.
  • Strengthen interpersonal relationships and communication skills.
  • Promote resilience and personal growth.

The Different Types of Psychotherapy

There are many different types of psychotherapy, and each one has its benefits in treating those with mental health issues. Some of the most common types of psychotherapy include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most widely used types of psychotherapy, with multiple studies recognizing it as the ‘gold standard’ of psychotherapy. CBT works by identifying negative thought patterns and behaviors and changing them. It’s based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are linked and that by modifying these behaviors, we can reduce emotional distress. During CBT sessions, a client will work with a therapist to change irrational beliefs and behaviors and develop new coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills to ensure positive outcomes.

CBT is commonly used to treat anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a similar type of therapy to DBT that was originally developed to help those with borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, over time, it has evolved to help those who may struggle with different emotional dysregulation issues, such as self-harm, substance abuse and eating disorders. DBT is focused on developing skills such as mindfulness, distress tolerance and teaching individuals to regulate their emotions. DBT can work in individual and group settings, with the aim of helping clients learn to manage intense emotions, improve relationships and work towards a better lifestyle.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that is mainly used in the treatment of trauma-related disorders, such as PTSD. It’s an eight-phase process that uses elements of CBT alongside bilateral stimulation, where a therapist will help guide the client’s eye movements or use another form of rhythmic stimulation. The main aim of EMDR is to help an individual work through distressing memories and negative associations, helping to reduce their intensity to lessen the traumatic response.  

Many studies have highlighted the effectiveness and rapidness of EMDR in treating PTSD and other trauma-related conditions.


Somatic therapy, which is also known as body psychotherapy, focuses on the connection between the mind and body and the role sensations, movement and posture play in emotional healing. Somatic therapy views psychological distress caused by trauma or stress as though it is stored in the body, which can manifest through physical tension, pain, or discomfort. The aim of somatic is to help a client explore these manifestations and aim to release them using techniques such as breathwork, mindfulness, body awareness exercises and gentle movement. This type of therapy allows clients to tune into their bodies to connect with their emotions to help them understand more about their issues and find a holistic way to heal.

Somatic therapy is a suitable therapy for those who may have experienced stress or trauma, and may not be able to process what they’re feeling verbally.


Existential therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses a philosophical perspective to focus on elements of human existence such as freedom, meaning, responsibility and morality. The aim is to encourage individuals to confront the existential challenges typical of the human condition, such as the need to find purpose, and the feelings of anxiety that can come with uncertainty and unexpected parts of life. During existential therapy sessions, a therapist will help a client examine their values, beliefs and assumptions about both themselves and the world, and help them find ways to make realistic choices and find some meaning in their lives.

Existential therapy can be effective for people who may be experiencing difficulty understanding their meaning, purpose or identity, and may therefore be facing an existential crisis. It can also be suitable for those who have faced huge changes in their lives such as loss or illness.

ACT (Acceptance and Commitment)

ACT is a type of psychotherapy that is based on mindfulness, using common acceptance and mindfulness approaches alongside commitment and behavior change techniques. Through ACT, individuals can learn to accept their thoughts and feelings without judging themselves, clarify their values and commit to actions to help them live a more meaningful life. ACT teaches clients to acknowledge unhelpful thoughts and emotions and defuse them, ensuring greater self-awareness and behavior that is more consistent with their values and goals. This therapy uses a combination of experiential exercises and mindfulness practices to help clients let go of their internal struggles to help them change their behavior and live a richer, more fulfilling life.

ACT is suitable therapy for those who struggle with anxiety, depression and other emotional issues.

EFT (Emotion-Focused Therapy)

EFT is a psychotherapy that is humanist in its approach, rooted in the idea that helping individuals explore and regulate their emotions can help lead to psychological healing and growth. Those who may have a lack of emotional awareness or tend to avoid unpleasant or unwanted emotions can cause harm to themselves. Ultimately, the client is taught to use their emotions to help them live a healthier, more meaningful life. 

EFT is beneficial for those who may have trouble dealing with or processing their emotions, or may have experienced some unresolved emotional issues in their lives. It can also help those who may struggle to build authentic and fulfilling relationships due to their lack of emotional awareness.


Holistic therapy takes a comprehensive approach to healing, recognizing that the mind, body and spirit are all connected. Recognizing that all individuals are complex beings influenced by different factors such as health, their environment, beliefs and relationships, the therapy seeks to address any imbalances and find ways to resolve them. This can include typical psychotherapy techniques, as well as alternative therapies and even lifestyle interventions. 

Holistic therapy is suitable for individuals who want to use a combined approach to healing, using self-care, personal growth and holistic healing techniques.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT is a type of psychotherapy that is time-limited therapy that has three phases – a beginning, middle and an end, that typically lasts 12-16 weeks. It is focused on improving interpersonal relationships and the issues that may be causing psychological symptoms. Through IPT, clients can develop better communication and problem-solving skills and learn to use their support networks more effectively to help them develop more meaningful relationships in their lives.

IPT is a suitable form of therapy for those who may be experiencing difficult relationships, social isolation or grief. It can also be beneficial for those struggling with significant life changes such as divorce or retirement.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MCBT)

MCBT is a type of cognitive therapy that also uses mindfulness techniques to help an individual break away from cycles of negative thinking that can lead to issues such as anxiety of depression. MBCT teaches clients to use mindfulness skills, such as present-moment awareness and how to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment to help them find balance and improve their wellbeing. Some of the techniques used within MCBT can include meditation, body scan exercises, mindfulness practices and yoga.

MCBT can be effective in treating those who experience regular bouts of depression, or those who want to develop greater self-awareness and acceptance of themselves.

Motivation Enhancement Therapy (MET)

MET is a form of short-term therapy that is direct and person-centered, to help increase an individual’s motivation and commitment to change unhealthy behaviors, such as substance abuse or unhealthy eating habits. Through MET, therapists work with clients to help them understand their motivations and increase self-efficacy to enable them to develop unique strategies for behavior change. 

MET can be effective for clients who may be resistant to change and may need further help exploring their motivations, values and goals. 


Narrative therapy is an approach focused on collaboration, and is a non-pathologizing approach that sees individuals as the authors of their own stories, who are able to rewrite or reinterpret their life narratives. In narrative therapy, the therapist is the co-author, who can help the client to explore and deconstruct the dominant narrative in someone’s life that may be limiting or even oppressive. The therapy finds a way of externalizing the problem and help separate it from the individual’s identity, helping them develop a more objective perspective on things. The therapy will use storytelling, metaphor and reflective questioning to help identify and encourage alternative narratives that are focused on highlighting an individual’s strengths and values. The new narratives should help empower a person and help them feel more aligned with their identity and aspirations for their lives.

Narrative therapy can be beneficial for those who struggle with their identity or finding meaning in their lives, or may be facing difficulties with life transitions. It can help people take control of their life’s story for more positive outcomes and approaches to challenges.  

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

SFBT is a type of psychotherapy that is strength-based and goal-oriented to help identify an individual’s own resources and ability to find solutions to their problems. In SBFT sessions, a therapist will work with the client to understand their goals, preferences and exceptions to any problems they might be facing. By working out when the problem is less severe or absent, the therapist can help clients recognize where their own strengths and resilience lie. This is achieved using a series of structured questions and exercises designed to help the client understand what they’d like to achieve and creating small, achievable steps to help them reach their goals. With SFBT, sessions are usually limited to focus on making positive changes quickly and sustainably. 

Due to its brief nature, SFBT is generally suitable for those looking for practical, actionable strategies for addressing issues or challenges in a client’s life by focusing on solutions rather than problems. 

Discover Psychotherapy with Peaks Recovery

Peaks Recovery provides a range of psychotherapy treatments to help clients seek help for their issues and overcome them to lead healthier, more meaningful lives. We help those who may be experiencing substance use disorders as well as mental health issues, and assess each individual to help determine the type of therapy or therapies that will aid their recovery. Based in Colorado, we have both residential and day programs that can provide individuals with tailored experiences based on their needs.

You can learn more about Peaks Recovery Centers or contact us for confidential help and advice. 

Medical Disclaimer: Peaks Recovery Centers uses fact-based content about recovery treatment, addiction medicine, and behavioral health conditions to improve the quality of life for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction or mental health disorders. This information is not intended to replace professional medical guidance, diagnosis, care, or treatment. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare provider and/or your physician.