types of therapy

Whether you are seeking help with managing stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma, or need support with a phobia or personality disorder, there are many different types of therapy that can benefit you, or your loved one. Some therapies focus on talking through your emotions, while others rely on actions and activities. Many of these therapies serve as a critical aspect of PCI’s treatment programs designed to help individuals lead a life of wellness and balance.

In this guide, we’ll take a deeper look at the various therapies that help people overcome mental health and addiction issues, and live happier and healthier lives.

Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT)

Developed in the 1960s by Aaron Beck, CBT attempts to reduce symptoms by addressing the intertwined relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Chand, Kuckel, and Huecker, 2023):

CBT Treatment Focus:

  • Automatic (negative) thoughts: Unplanned, sudden thoughts or opinions that come to mind. Automatic thoughts can influence emotions and actions.
  • Cognitive distortions: Errors in logic that yield to false conclusions about events. Some examples include black & white thinking, catastrophizing, and overgeneralization.
  • Underlying beliefs or schemas: Beliefs influence how we see and interpret the world. A schema is a belief system that develops over time and serves as a template for understanding the world.
    • Example: “I am unlovable” supported by the sentiment, “to be loved, I should always please others.”

CBT Treatment Approach: A typical CBT session may focus on identifying negative thoughts or false beliefs, clarifying how negative thoughts influence behavior or beliefs about self, developing constructive ways of thinking to reduce negative behaviors and beliefs. Some therapists may assign homework exercises between sessions to reinforce continuous learning/practice and self-monitoring of symptoms (or progress).

Conditions CBT can help with: depression, anxiety, anger, phobias, panic, OCD, and substance use disorder. PTSD (Trauma Focused CBT).

Dialectical Behavioral therapy (DBT)

DBT was developed in the 1970s by Marsha Linehan. DBT focuses on teaching skills in four areas:

DBT Treatment Focus:

  • Mindfulness aims to foster acceptance of the here and now, emphasizing the temporary nature of emotions. It is gaining the understanding that if we allow emotions to pass, they will not have a strong hold over actions.
  • Emotion regulation aims at equipping individuals with a set of skills to change and manage unwanted strong emotions.
  • Distress tolerance aims to increase skills tolerate negative emotions instead of escaping or numbing it away, which might make the situation worse
  • Interpersonal effectiveness aims to support individuals in developing healthy communication skills with others, uphold self-esteem, and strengthen relationships. Individuals ultimately learn skills to communicate their needs and inhibit resentment/hurt from developing.

DBT Treatment Approach:

  • Learning or improving the four life skills discussed above
  • Practicing skills outside of session in personal life
  • Increase motivation to change and increase behaviors that make life worth living
  • Ensuring that the individual’s environment is structured to support and reinforce effective progress rather than mask or minimize dysfunctional behaviors
  • Therapist has a support team for maintaining motivation, validation, and continued skill-building

(Chapman, 2006)

Conditions DBT can help with: borderline personality disorder, eating, disorders, self-harm, TSD, substance use disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Individual therapy for mental health and addiction

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT):

Developed in 1982 by Steven Hayes, ACT cultivates psychological flexibility by helping individuals stop avoidance and denial of difficult emotions, thoughts, and situations.

ACT Treatment Focus: ACT helps individuals accept life as it is, identify willingness to change, and commit to change regardless of context, content, & associated feelings about a situation.

ACT Treatment Approach: ACT helps individuals accept life as it is, identify willingness to change, and commit to change regardless of context, content, & associated feelings about a situation.

  • Acceptance: recognize and accept thoughts and emotions without trying to avoid, deny, fight, or change them.
  • Cognitive defusion: separate self from thoughts; responding to thoughts and feelings without judgment instead of reacting to them in negative ways.
  • Being Present: practicing mindfulness in the present moment; noticing thoughts and feelings without judgment; gaining clarity over what is actually happening
  • Self as Context: learn how to consider self beyond and as a separate entity from thoughts, feelings, and experiences
  • Values: helps individuals prioritize personal values and align actions with values; this is in contrast to feeling pressured to put others first or engage in behaviors to avoid negative emotions
  • Committed Action: identifying specific steps to implement changes that align with values and promote change. Therapists can support with setting goals, encouraging exposure to situations, and some skill development

(Psychology Today, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)

Conditions ACT can help with: Anxiety disorder, depression, eating disorder, substance use disorder, chronic pain, workplace stress, and more.

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, MBSR centers the practice of mindfulness meditation in therapy.

MBSR Treatment Focus: This form of therapy aims to reduce challenges associated with physical, psychosomatic, and psychiatric disorders.

MBSR Treatment Approach: This therapy approach teaches individuals to pause before habitually reacting to stimuli. It helps individuals go off autopilot mode and to simply become an observer, without judgment. Individuals learn to not avoid or judge pain/stress. Individuals become capable of accessing their senses to feel grounded as they attempt to “ride the wave” of experiences happening in the moment. Ultimately the individual may arrive at and attempt to resolve underlying issues.

Conditions MBSR can help with: stress management, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, hypertension, skin and immune disorders (Niazi and Niazi, 2011)

Psychodynamic Therapy

This form of therapy derives from psychoanalysis and involves in-depth talk therapy. It may help people find new meaning in life or understand life experiences beginning in childhood (Psychology Today, Psychodynamic Therapy.

Psychodynamic Treatment Focus: Psychodynamic therapy helps individuals engage in deep exploration of the
present and past, to understand repressed experiences that may influence current thoughts, behaviors, and relationships (Psychology Today, Psychodynamic Therapy).

Psychodynamic Treatment Approach: Individuals may talk about their histories, especially their relationship with their parents and across development. Psychodynamic therapy pays attention to both what is said and unsaid in the therapy room, making the unconscious conscious and exploring the relationship between therapist and client (transference vs countertransference). Some therapists may be training in dream analysis.

Conditions Psychodynamic Therapy can help with: depression, existential conflicts,
interpersonal conflicts, and personality disorders.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

This approach aims to reduce stress and tension by improving interpersonal functioning.

IPT Treatment Focus: Current issues in relationships instead of issues rooted in childhood. Specifically, IPT focuses on current relational conflicts, life changes (e.g. job loss), grief/loss, and challenges starting or sustaining relationships (Center for Addiction and Mental Health).

IPT Treatment Approach: Individuals learn effective skills and techniques to deal with relationship problems and reduce unwanted psychological symptoms.

Conditions IPT can help with: Relationship conflict about people with anxiety, bulimia nervosa, chronic fatigue, and mood disorders (e.g. Bipolar Disorder).

Group therapy for mental health and addiction

Integrative Therapy

This is a tailored approach to therapy, borrowing concepts and techniques from different modalities. The therapy very much depends on what the individual is needed support with in therapy

Integrative Treatment Focus: This form of therapy holistically addresses mental, physical, and emotional well-being of individuals. The therapist and individuals may explore personality traits, needs, spiritual beliefs, and motivation for change.

Integrative Treatment Approach: A typical integrative therapist might utilize various strategies including mindfulness meditation, CBT, DBT, and trauma-informed practices.

Conditions Integrative Therapy can help with: depression, anxiety, grief, self-harm, trauma-related disorders, and substance use disorder among others
(Psychology Today, Integrative Therapy)

Humanistic Therapy

This is a version of talk therapy that centers who the individual is as a whole.

Humanistic Treatment Focus: The therapist may amplify positive characteristics, existing strengths, and explore the growth potential toward self-actualization. It can support individuals to find meaning, purpose, and “wholeness”.

Humanistic Treatment Approach: The therapist will maintain an unconditional positive attitude that nurtures the individual with compassion. The client is at the center of the treatment and the expert of their life, who will use therapy to discover their wisdom, healing, and life fulfillment.

Conditions Humanistic Therapy can help with: Depression, anxiety, personality disorders, substance use disorder, and interpersonal conflicts.
(Psychology Today, Humanistic Therapy)

By finding the right type of therapy for your needs, you can tap into the power of healing and finally overcome the obstacles holding you back. Remember, healing is a journey, and therapy can be an invaluable tool in your recovery toolbox.

At PCI, we utilize many of these therapies to best support your needs. Mental health and addiction are complex and layered conditions that require a truly holistic approach. Our dedicated psychological professionals are highly specialized in these different types of therapy, which are utilized in the individual, group, and family psychotherapy included in our intensive outpatient programs. If you, or a loved one would benefit from any of these types of therapy, contact PCI today.



1. Center for Addiction and Mental Health. (n.d.). Interpersonal psychotherapy IPT. CAMH. https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/interpersonal-psychotherapy#:~:text=%E2%80%8BInterpersonal%20psychotherapy%20(IPT)%20is,everyday%20relationships%20with%20other%20people

2. Chand SP, Kuckel DP, Huecker MR. Cognitive Behavior Therapy. [Updated 2023 May 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470241/

3. Chapman, A. (2006). Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Psychiatry (Edgmnont), 3(9), 62–68. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963469/

4. Psychology Today. (n.d.) Acceptance and commitment therapy. Sussex Publishers. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/acceptance-and-commitment-therapy

5. Psychology Today. (n.d.) Dialectical behavior therapy. Sussex Publishers. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/dialectical-behavior-therapy

6. Psychology Today. (n.d.) Integrative therapy. Sussex Publishers. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/integrative-therapy

7. Psychology Today. (n.d.) Humanistic therapy. Sussex Publishers. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/humanistic-therapy

8. Psychology Today. (n.d.) Psychodynamic therapy. Sussex Publishers. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/psychodynamic-therapy

9. NNiazi, A. and Niazi S. (2011). Mindfulness-based stress reduction: a non-pharmacological approach for chronic illnesses. North American Journal of Medical Sciences, 3(1), 20-23. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336928/#:~:text=Mindfulness%20Based%20Stress%20Reduction%20(MBSR,hypertension%2C%20skin%20and%20immune%20disorders.