Talking therapy and counselling

Explains what talking therapies are, what happens during therapy, how to get the most from therapy and how to find a therapist.

Your stories

How therapy helped me

Kelly writes about her experience of therapy, becoming a therapist and why she fundraises for Mind.

Posted on 11/01/2018

Coming out to my therapist

Of all the times Simon has come out over the years, coming out to his therapists were the most challenging.

Posted on 06/07/2017

On my therapist, who was always there

Brooke blogs on how important it was for to have one person she could turn to throughout her recovery.

Posted on 09/03/2017

What different therapies are there?

Talking therapies can differ in:

  • their focus (for example, learning about more yourself by talking about your past, or working on overcoming a specific problem you have now)
  • the techniques the therapist might use during sessions
  • the academic theory behind them.

Therapists use all sorts of complicated words to describe their particular style of  therapy, which can be really confusing. This table explains some common terms you might come across:

Term used

What it means about the therapy

Arts or creative      

Uses creative processes such as painting, drawing, drama and music as a way to help explore and communicate difficult or confusing feelings – such as in arts and creative therapies.


Explores the way you act.


Explores your thoughts and the way you think – such as in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


Explores opposite positions and looks at how they might exist together – such as in dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT).


Focuses on the individual as a whole, including mind, body, spirit and soul.


Involves becoming aware of all your current thoughts and feelings and accepting them. Often involves mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises.


Focuses on using your own strengths and insight about yourself to encourage personal growth and improve relationships.

Psychoanalytic (or analytic)

Focuses on unconscious, deep-rooted thoughts that often stem from childhood.

Psychodynamic (or dynamic)

Explores how your unconscious thoughts might affect the way you act.


Focuses on what you want to achieve in the future rather than exploring past experiences.

Many therapists are trained in several different styles and will tailor their approach for you. In this case they might also use words like ‘eclectic’, 'blended' or ‘integrative’ when they describe how they work.

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) website has an extensive A–Z of therapeutic approaches. This list covers many types of therapy by name, and explains the different beliefs and approaches behind each one.

But it's important to be aware that not all therapies are available everywhere. Sometimes it can feel like you don't have much choice, as it may largely depend on what's available locally. It might help most to learn what's available to you personally, and think about how to get the most from therapy in any situation.

Don't be disheartened if the first talking treatment you try doesn't help. It took me three attempts to find the right therapy for my anxiety and six to find the right one for my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – the right treatment is out there.


This information was published in June 2018 – to be revised in 2021. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.

Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z


Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today