Understanding different types of therapy: A comprehensive guide

Therapy plays a crucial role in improving mental health and well-being. Therapy provides you with a safe and supportive environment to address your emotional, psychological, and behavioural concerns. However, therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are various types of therapy, each designed to target specific issues and cater to different individuals' needs. In this comprehensive guide, I explore some of the most popular types of therapy to help you better understand the options available to you.


Your therapist may promote their services under a heading, such as counsellor, hypnotherapist, or psychotherapist. It’s important to delve into the specifics of any therapist you’re considering working with to understand the therapeutic theories they subscribe to. You will find hypnotherapists, counsellors and psychotherapists that subscribe to the following protocols (and more).

Different types of therapy 

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT is a widely used form of therapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours. It helps you recognise how your thoughts influence your emotions and actions. Through structured sessions and homework assignments, CBT empowers you to develop healthier coping mechanisms and more adaptive behaviours.

The NHS advocates CBT as a gold-standard therapeutic technique, and for many people it works well. However, some people find CBT undermining. CBT tends to suggest you should not believe your own thoughts or feelings, reduce emotion, and increase objective thinking. You can benefit from the considerate use of CBT techniques with most therapists, regardless of the underlying modality they subscribe to.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapists believe unconscious thoughts and past experiences influence your current emotions and behaviours. This approach aims to explore unresolved conflicts and early life experiences to gain insight into present challenges. By uncovering and working through underlying issues, individuals can achieve lasting change.

It aims to help you gain insight into unresolved conflicts and unconscious patterns that may contribute to your difficulties. Through self-reflection and exploration of past experiences, psychodynamic therapy facilitates personal growth and improved self-awareness.

Humanistic therapy

Humanistic therapy emphasises personal growth and self-actualisation. This client-centred approach focuses on your inherent capacity for self-healing and personal development. Humanistic therapists provide empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuine acceptance to facilitate their client's self-exploration and self-discovery.

Gestalt therapy

A Gestalt therapist will help you increase your self-awareness and personal growth by emphasising the present moment. This holistic therapy encourages you to explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours as they occur in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. The aim is to develop self-acceptance and an understanding of your full self.

Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT)

SFBT is a goal-oriented, future-focused therapy that emphasises finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems. Your therapist will use a collaborative, future-oriented approach that empowers you to identify and work towards your desired solution by leveraging your existing strengths and resources. A wide range of settings, including individual therapy, couples counselling, family therapy, and organisational settings regularly use SFBT.

Family/couple therapy

You can see a therapist as an individual, with your family or as a couple. Family therapy involves working with families to address relational dynamics and conflicts. It recognises that individuals' psychological well-being is closely linked to their family system. Family therapists help family members improve communication, resolve conflicts, and strengthen their relationships. This type of therapy is beneficial for families facing challenges such as divorce, addiction, or behavioural issues.

Couples therapy, also known as marital therapy, is specifically designed to address issues within intimate relationships. Couples work with a therapist to improve communication, resolve conflicts, and enhance their emotional connection. Couples therapy can benefit couples struggling with trust issues, infidelity, poor communication, or significant life changes.

A holistic approach

I work as a hypnotherapist/psychotherapist and believe my clients should also work with someone who can guide them physically, such as a personal trainer or fitness instructor. I also encourage most of my clients to speak with a nutritional therapist. While talking therapy is necessary for many people, it’s very difficult to heal fully without considering the physical self too.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Farnham GU9 & GU10
Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham GU9 & GU10

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

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