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Explains what talking therapies are, what happens during therapy, how to get the most from therapy and how to find a therapist.
Talking therapies can differ in:
Therapists use all sorts of complicated words to describe their particular style of therapy, which can be really confusing. Also, 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.
Here are some common terms you might come across when describing different types of therapy, and what they mean:
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.
Focuses on unconscious, deep-rooted thoughts that often stem from childhood.
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.
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.
"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. We will revise it in 2021.
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