Types of Therapy

Mental Health 101


1 July 2020

Professional psychologist doctor holding clipboard and filling medical patient information consulting his depressed patient

Most counsellors or clinical psychologists may use a variety of these counselling types to help a person improve their overall mental wellbeing. Here are some of the most common types of counselling sessions: 

  • Mental Health Counselling
  • Marriage and Family Counselling 
  • Guidance and Career Counselling 
  • Addiction or Substance Abuse Counselling 

Below are two examples of how therapists usually approach these sessions. 

Mental Health Counseling 

Mental health counseling is a very broad category of counselling, and the counsellor or psychologist may: 

  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences, to explain the situation from the client’s point of view and perspective 
  • Examine issues including family history, aging, bullying, relationships, addiction, substance abuse, anger management, LGBTQ issues, self-image, stress, and/or suicidal ideation 
  • Help clients work through difficult emotions or help them overcome barriers by defining goals and gaining new insights 
  • Employ a variety of techniques such as through career coaching, cognitive-behavioral therapy, music therapy, meditation, or trauma-informed therapy to help client cope with mental health issues 
Couples therapy and family counseling 

This type of counseling helps clients work through difficult phases in their relationships, such as a struggling marriage, infidelity, miscarriage, or parenting disagreements. Family counseling can also involve relationships between 2 or more family members, such as father and son relationships or entire families. In these sessions, the counsellor or psychologist may: 

  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences, to explain the situation from the client’s point of view and perspective
  • Help clients talk through difficult topics, such as betrayal or abandonment  
  • Help clients build stronger communication skills to help increase mutual respect
  • Assist in developing mutual goals and agreements to help grow the relationship for the future 
  • Help clients work through difficult transition phases, such as a divorce, or work with children that are undergoing difficult transitions such as a loss of a parent 
Counseling or Therapy Methods 

Counselors and/or therapists are trained and influenced by different methods and psychological theories of the human mind. There is not one superior method compared to another, though there are debunked theories that have been proven to not work. Some examples of debunked methods are: 

  • Conversion Therapy [1]
  • Ego Depletion [2]
  • Attachment Therapy (which is different from attachment theory) [3] 

It is important to research the type of therapy or school of thought that your therapist uses. 

Most counselors and therapists will use a combination of methods and techniques to provide mental healthcare to you that fits your unique circumstance. Some example of proven and effective methods are:   

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. It’s often the preferred type of psychotherapy because it can quickly help you identify and cope with specific challenges. It generally requires fewer sessions than other types of therapy. (Source: Mayo Clinic

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)  

ACT works in three areas: accept the emotion and be mindful, choose a direction, and then act accordingly. The first part involves the acceptance of things that are out of your control. Focusing on things outside of your control may cause more distress the more you focus on it. In the second and third area, you are taking charge and committing to the action that will push you forward instead of remaining stagnant in a muck of emotions. (Source: Betterhelp

Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy

DBT recognizes the fact that most people are doing the best they can possibly do with the types of skills they have. If someone is not doing well they may simply be missing the necessary skills. DBT helps clients focus on gaining skills such as mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. It has been shown to be particularly effective in borderline personality disorder but can also be used for a variety of other mental illnesses. (Source: Positive Psychology)


[1] American Psychiatric Association. Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation

[2] The Slate. Everything is Crumbling.

[3] Quakwatch. Be Wary of Attachment Therapy