Other psychological therapies

As well as counselling, there are many other types of psychological therapies, including psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


Like counselling, the term "psychotherapy" is sometimes used to refer to talking therapies in general. However, psychotherapy is also a specific type of therapy. It may also be described as psychoanalytic or psychodynamic.

Psychotherapy is a more in-depth form of therapy than counselling, and it can be used to address a wider range of issues.

A psychotherapist can help you explore your thoughts, feelings and beliefs, which may involve discussing past events, such as those from your childhood.

They'll help you consider how your personality and life experiences influence your current thoughts, feelings, relationships, and behaviour. This understanding should enable you to deal with difficult situations more effectively.

Depending on your problem, psychotherapy can be short or long term. Adults, young people and children can all benefit from psychotherapy. Sessions can take place on a one-to-one basis, in couples, families, or in groups whose members share similar problems.

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme provides a type of specific evidence-based brief psychotherapy called dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT). Thisoffers a focused approach over 16 sessions of therapy.

It encourages you to examine how your actions and thoughts can affect how you feel.

It's based on the idea that the way you think about a situation affects how you feel and act. In turn, your actions influence the way you think and feel. It's therefore necessary to change both thinking (cognition) and action (behaviour) at the same time.

CBT is an active therapy, and you'll be expected to work on your problems between sessions, trying out different ways of thinking and acting, as agreed with your therapist. The aim is for you to develop the skills to become your own therapist.

CBT is usually a short-term treatment. For example, a course may consist of between6 and 24 one-hour sessions.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends the use of CBT for:

  • Depression
  • anxiety
  • panic disorder
  • obsessive compulsive disorder(OCD)
  • post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD)
  • long-term illnesses
  • eating disorders , such as anorexia and bulimia
  • schizophrenia

CBT is widely available on the NHS for treating depression. If you feel CBT may be helpful, you should first discuss it with your GP.

Private therapists are also available. Before starting CBT with a private therapist, you should check the therapist is accredited by the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) .

Computerised CBT (CCBT) packages are also available. CCBT is delivered in a series of weekly sessions and should be supported by a healthcare professional. NICE recommends CCBT for some people with depression.

It encourages you to think about your thoughts and feelings, and take responsibility for your actions.

A humanistic approach provides a distinct method of counselling and focuses predominantly on an individual's unique personal potential to explore creativity, growth, love, and psychological understanding.

Group therapy

Group therapyaims to help you find solutions to your problems by discussing them in a group setting. Sessions are led by a facilitator who directs the flow of conversation.

As well as group therapy, many people find psychoeducational groups or courses very helpful. These provide information and skills without having to discuss personal problems in-depth.

NICE recommends group therapy for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and for children and young people with mild depression.

Many people are initially anxious about attending a group, but find they benefit from meeting people who share the same experiences and work together to overcome them.

Relationship therapy

Relationship therapy is wherepeople who are having relationship difficulties work with a therapist to resolve their problems. It can be used to help couples, family members, or work colleagues.

NICE recommends relationship therapy for people who've tried individual therapy without success.

Family therapy can be usedfor children with depression, or where a family member has a mental health condition, such asanorexia or schizophrenia.

Mindfulness-based therapies

Mindfulness-based therapies help you focus on your thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them.

Theycanbe used to help treat depression, stress , anxiety , and addiction . Techniques such as yoga , meditation and breathing exercises can also be incorporated.

NICE recommends mindfulness-based therapies to help people avoid repeated bouts of depression.

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)is a treatment that uses eye movements to stimulate the brain. It's been shown to make distressing memories feel less intense.

EMDR can help a persondeal with traumatic memories, such as thosethat occur afteran accident, orafter sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

In particular, NICE recommends EMDR for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Telephone counselling

Samaritans provides a confidential listening service for people who would like to talk about whatever is troubling them. Everything isoff the record andwithout judgement.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 22 Aug 2016