In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week(1). Longer working hours, excessive exposure to social media and the availability of round-the-clock entertainment at our fingertips – these might be some stressors contributing to a lifestyle that ultimately causes the triggering of mental health issues or emotional distress, besides genetic and subjective socioeconomic factors.

Therapy, short for psychotherapy, or counselling is when one can talk openly with a licensed mental health professional who is ‘objective, neutral and non-judgemental’. Using research-based techniques, the therapist helps the patient work through their problems. 

Unfortunately, there still remains a stigma around therapy due to misconceptions that desperately need to be weeded out. Psychotherapy can be interactive, collaborative and might just be the first step to feeling better, as long as you are willing to ask for help. There are several types of therapy that you can choose from; a conversation with your therapist should help you zero in on which kind you can best benefit from. 

Here are a few types of different therapy that are available:

  1. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) aims to help one recognise the correlation between their thoughts and feelings and behaviour. A talking therapy, it combines a cognitive approach, that entails examining your thoughts, with a behavioural one to simplify a problem by breaking it down to smaller parts. 

Acquired habits and negative thought patterns are examined and an effort is made to turn them into something productive and positive. This involves skills which are taught by the mental health professional that can be applied in situations for the rest of your life. 

This active therapy is often suited to individuals who suffer from depression and/or anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, addiction, sleeping problems, such as insomnia, phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder.

  1. Compassion-Focused Therapy

While all therapies involve compassion, compassion-focused therapy is geared towards those who deal with a lot of shame and self-criticism. Drawing from research and tools from Buddhism, neuroscience and evolutionary therapy, it helps one ‘consciously develop your ability to be more compassionate towards both yourself and others’.

CBT sometimes falls short of addressing the problems faced by those struggling with high levels of shame and self-criticism, and this is where compassion-focused therapy can come into play. Practising mindfulness, appreciation exercises and compassion-focused imagery exercises are some techniques involved in this therapy. 

This therapy is often suited to individuals who have faced a history of bullying, physical or emotional abuse, trust issues and difficulties being kind towards themselves. Those suffering from anxiety and/or depression, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, self-criticism, anger and self-harm can find this therapy helpful. 

  1. Person-centred therapy 

             Also known as person-centred or client-centred counselling, this type of therapy employs a ‘humanistic approach’ that addresses how individuals consciously perceive themselves, instead of how their unconscious thoughts or ideas can be interpreted by a therapist. 

             Created by psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1950’s, this type of therapy focuses on the self-actualisation of the individual – and aspires to help them look past any negative experiences that have affected their sense of value to reorient them to tap into their ‘innate tendency to develop towards their full potential’. The psychological environment created during these therapy sessions combines the three key conditions of congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard to help the individual feel safe to express themselves and work towards a positive outcome.

This approach focuses on the individual’s ability to fulfil their own personal potential, and facilitates self-growth and healing in this way. Self-concept – ‘the organised and consistent set of beliefs and perceptions a person has about themselves’ – influences our perception of the world around us in a big way. Person-centred counselling helps shift the focus from how an individual ‘should’ be to strengthen and expand on their own sense of identity.

What is the importance of getting help at the right time?

We cannot emphasise the importance of getting help at the right time from a licensed mental health professional if you’re struggling with feelings of stress and anxiety, especially over a long period of time. The therapist will be able to work through your issues with an approach that is suited to your needs and problems, and whatever you share with the therapist is completely confidential.

Simply put-

If you or a loved one has been struggling psychologically, we urge you to discard of any misconceptions you might have and go ahead and seek the help you deserve so that you can feel better soon. 

In the next volume of our article on types of therapy, we elaborate on three other types of therapies and the mental health concerns they are geared towards. Better food habits, regular physical exercise and practising mindfulness and meditation can also go a long way in helping to destress and lifting your mood. Through stress management tools like these, in addition to therapy, if required, it is possible to improve the quality of your life in a big way.