6 Types of Therapy to Know—And How to Tell Which Is Right for You

For example, if you’re struggling with a lack of purpose or satisfaction in your life, you could eventually trace this back to a deep-rooted desire to please an unpleasable parent or guardian. The inability to feel satisfaction from within could be something you discover you’re still carrying with you. But when you see it, you can begin to work on making changes so you can find inner peace and in turn improve your mood.

Multiple studies show psychodynamic therapy can effectively relieve symptoms of multiple mental health conditions. And research suggests the process can jump-start psychological shifts that continue to serve you long after you finish therapy, per the American Psychological Association.

Among other issues, P.T. can help with: depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, complicated or prolonged grief, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, somatic symptom disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, and substance use problems.

What to expect: Weekly sessions lasting around an hour for a (potentially) long-term therapeutic relationship. Since it can take a long time to unearth and process parts of yourself and your life story, it’s not uncommon to meet with a therapist for years, says Dr. Crawford.

One way to get started: Use Psychology Today’s search tool to find a psychodynamic therapy provider in your area.

2. Cognitive behavioral therapy

If you feel like you’re stuck or often get trapped in the same old mood spirals, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) could help you finally step out of your own personal whirlwind.

“The theory behind CBT is really the interplay between thinking patterns, emotions, and behavior or habits,” Martin Hsai, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist and clinical director of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Southern California, tells SELF. With CBT, you learn how to identify unhelpful thoughts and rewrite them to be more realistic and constructive. In turn, you can set new goals and change your behavior.

Depression, for instance, often lies with thoughts like, “Nothing will help me feel better.” Absorb these false beliefs, and you could begin to avoid the people and hobbies you love. But with CBT, you can rewrite a better script: “I feel crappy right now and that makes it hard to text friends. But seeing them could help—even if it’s only a little.”

“Sometimes there’s a little fake it till you make it,” says Dr. Hsai. “But you start to have some pleasure and gratification and that’s good, and the more you do that proactively—even with some resistance within yourself—you start to enjoy those things again.”

Compared with traditional talk therapy, CBT is generally more collaborative, structured, and focused on problem solving in the here and now rather than revisiting your past. If you’re feeling stuck, CBT can provide the guide and game plan you need to move forward.

Among other issues, CBT can help with: depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, insomnia, loneliness, substance use problems, seasonal affective disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and easing mood-related symptoms in caregivers and people living with a variety of health conditions such as chronic pain and COVID-19.

What to expect: Weekly sessions for around an hour for about 10 to 25 weeks. Generally, CBT is time-limited, but the length of treatment can vary. At the first session, your therapist may ask questions like where you want to see yourself at the end of this process and what you hope to learn or accomplish. Often they’ll help you set concrete goals and provide “homework” assignments to help you work toward them (such as journaling out thoughts or exposing yourself to what you’re afraid of, like entering a second-floor balcony to address a fear of heights).