Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, is considered the collaborative piece of mental wellness treatment. While medications can be helpful to manage the symptoms of mental health problems, working with a counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist with talk therapy assists with the day to day thoughts, challenges, and mood regulation.

There are many different types of effective therapies. In the same way that one type of medication does not always work for everyone, everyone also responds to therapy in different ways. Some people only need talk therapy, others find relief just in medication, but most people benefit from a combination of both.

Talk therapy can help you

  • Understand what’s going on inside of you
  • Identify current obstacles
  • Identify future goals
  • Overcome fears or insecurities
  • Cope with stress
  • Process past traumatic experiences
  • Understand the difference between you and the symptoms of your illness
  • Improve relationships
  • Create manageable steps towards your goals
  • End unhealthy habits
  • Understand what bothers you and what changes you can make
  • Identify triggers that make your symptoms worse
  • & much more

Who provides talk therapy?

Talk therapy can be provided by a psychiatric nurse, counselor, social worker, psychologist, or a psychiatrist. All of these individuals fall under the umbrella term therapist. It is important to make sure your therapist is licensed and in good standing. To check your therapist’s credentials, visit

Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Therapies

Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic therapies began with the “father of Psychology”, Sigmund Freud. These therapies focus on changing problematic thoughts and behaviors by focusing on their unconscious meanings, or understanding the “root” of where the problem came from. These therapies have been vastly improved since Freud’s days and have a strong research base backing up their efficiency.

Therapies with excellent success rates for mental health problems

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is a blend of cognitive and behavioral therapies, so it focuses on the relationship between thoughts and actions. Studies have shown that CBT is especially effective for minor or moderate depression, generalized anxiety, and trauma-related disorders.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: DBT is a form of CBT. It was first created to treat individuals with suicidal thoughts and actions, but has since been expanded to effectively treat individuals with borderline personality disorder. DBT focuses on a strong and equal client-therapist relationship, and works to find the “middle ground” between opposing beliefs.

Interpersonal Therapy: IPT is most often used to treat depression or dysthymia. IPT focuses on improving communication to better relate to others, identifying troubling emotions and their triggers, and learning how to appropriately express emotions. A variation of IPT is called interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), which has been effective in treating bipolar disorder.

Family Focused Therapies: FFT was initially created to treat bipolar disorder. FFT works to identify conflicts among family members that are worsening a patient’s illness or symptoms. FFT educates the family on the patient’s disorder, it’s symptoms and treatment, and how to better manage as a family. FFT is also useful for family members, especially if individuals are feeling burnout from being a caregiver.

Behavior Therapies

Behavior therapies focus on the behavior of a patient and how they learned their normal or abnormal behavioral patterns. Examples of behavioral therapy include the famous experiment with Ivan Pavlov’s dogs, where Pavlov noted that his dogs began drooling when they heard the dinner bell, because they associated the bell with food. This is often called classical conditioning.

Desensitizing is another common behavioral therapy term. A behavioral therapist may help a client with a phobia using repeated exposure to the fear to desensitize them.

E.L. Thorndike is yet another classic behavioral therapist, who coined the term operant conditioning, which works primarily in how punishments and rewards can shape someone’s behavior.

Cognitive Therapies

Cognitive therapy can be considered the opposite of behavior therapy, because cognitive therapies focus on what people think rather than what they do. Cognitive therapists believe that negative, unhealthy, or dysfunctional thinking is what drives individuals to act in negative, unhealthy, or dysfunctional ways. By changing the thoughts and thought patterns of the individual, cognitive therapy can then change the behaviors.

Humanistic Therapies

Humanistic therapies focus on the potential of individuals, emphasizing their ability to make rational choices and be the best they can be. Client-centered therapy is the concept that the client is the foundation of the therapeutic relationship, with the therapist acting more as a guide than an authority figure. Gestalt therapy is another form of humanistic therapy that emphasizes the “here and now”, focusing on being aware of the present and taking responsibility for one’s actions. Existential therapy focuses on free will, self-determination, and the search for meaning. Mindfulness-based therapies help build awareness of yourself, your feelings, and your body sensations to promote acceptance of yourself.

Integrative or Holistic Therapies

Most therapists are trained in several different types of therapies, and many clients benefit from various ideas and concepts. Due to this, many therapists take an integrative or holistic approach, which blends elements from different therapies to best benefit the client.

Group Therapy

Group therapy, also called support groups, are where several people get together to tackle a common issue with a group facilitator. The facilitator is usually trained as a therapist, but sometimes may not be, especially in the case of self-help groups. Common examples of group therapy include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Survivors of Suicide (SOS).

Each group therapy is different depending on the subject, the facilitator, the members, and the agreed-upon rules of the group. Some groups focus mostly on education, while others provide a safe place to share feelings, coping skills, and receive support. Some meet at the same time and place every week, some rotate to different locations. Be sure to connect with the group facilitator before attending to get all the important details ahead of time.

Group therapy is beneficial because it is often free, community-driven, and provides a base for a healthy support system.