If you want to start counselling sessions, you might be confused about what therapist to turn to or what to expect. You may or may not be aware that there are various types of counselling approaches, and it is not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation. The course of your counselling approach will largely depend on your therapist, but you also get a say and should do some research before making a decision. It is worth mentioning that whatever course of therapy you start will take some time to get used to. Even if something feels uncomfortable at first, it may just be a sign that it is working. Get informed, have an open mind, and give it time. By all means, if, after a while, you are still unhappy with a particular approach—let your counselor know and try something different.

What Are Counselling Approaches?

Counselling approaches are methods and techniques used by mental health professionals to help individuals address and resolve problems in their lives. There are many different approaches, each with unique sets of theories, techniques, and goals. We will explore some of the most common types of counselling approaches and discuss which one might be the best fit for you.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used therapy approach. It is a type of counselling that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This approach focuses on helping individuals identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors. It aims to help people understand how their thoughts and behaviors affect their feelings and actions and to change them in order to improve their overall well-being. CBT often involves the use of homework assignments, such as keeping a thought diary or practicing new behaviors, to help individuals make lasting changes in their lives. CBT is often used to treat a wide range of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that was developed to help people with severe emotional dysregulation and self-destructive behaviors. It is often used to treat those with borderline personality disorder, but it has also been found effective in treating other conditions such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The goal of DBT is to help people learn how to recognize negative thought patterns and regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in a healthy way.

Psychoanalytic Therapy

Probably the most famous type of treatment, thanks to its creator, Sigmund Freud, psychoanalytic therapy is also known as psychoanalysis. This type of counselling is based on exploring the unconscious mind and the role that past experiences and unresolved conflicts may play in current problems. Psychoanalytic therapy often involves techniques such as free association and dream analysis to help individuals better understand their unconscious thoughts and feelings. This therapy can be a long-term process, with sessions occurring once or twice a week over the course of several years. It is often used to treat deeper, more entrenched mental health concerns, such as chronic depression or personality disorders.

Humanistic Therapy

This type of counselling emphasizes the inherent goodness of people and the importance of individual growth and self-actualization. Humanistic therapy often involves using techniques such as active listening, empathy, and unconditional positive regard to create a safe and supportive therapeutic environment. Humanistic therapy often treats various mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.

Person-Centered Therapy

This approach focuses on the importance of the therapist creating a safe, non-judgmental space for the client to explore their feelings and experiences. The therapist’s role is to listen empathetically and reflect on the client’s thoughts and feelings rather than providing direct advice or interpretation.

Solution-Focused Therapy

Solution-focused therapy focuses on finding solutions to problems instead of dwelling on the past. Solution-focused treatment aims to help those in treatment identify and achieve their goals by focusing on their strengths and resources. Solution-focused therapy often involves using techniques such as goal-setting and role-playing to help individuals develop new skills and strategies for solving problems. This approach is often used to treat anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.

Family Therapy

Family therapy involves working with individuals and their families to address and resolve problems within the family system. It aims to help individuals understand and improve their relationships and find healthy ways of communicating and resolving conflicts.
Family therapy can take many forms, depending on the specific needs and goals of the family. For example, it may involve working with parents and children to improve communication and strengthen relationships, or it may involve working with couples to address issues in their relationship.

Group Therapy

Another one of the famous types of counselling approaches, group therapy involves working with a group of individuals who are facing similar issues. It can be helpful for individuals to share their experiences and receive support from others going through similar challenges.

How to Choose?

There are many other counselling approaches that therapists may use, and the best approach for a particular individual will depend on their specific needs and goals. The question is—how to pick the “right one.” Even when offered all the choices, making a decision may not be straightforward.

The choice will depend on your specific needs and goals. Some may prefer a more structured approach, such as CBT or solution-focused therapy. Others feel comfortable with a more open and exploratory process, such as psychoanalytic or humanistic therapy. Working with a mental health professional is essential for determining which approach is just right for you. Consider a few factors when choosing the best approach for your individual needs:

  • Think of your goals and what you want to get out of counselling. For example, if you are dealing with anxiety or depression, cognitive behavioral therapy may be a good option as it focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. On the other hand, a more exploratory approach, like psychodynamic therapy, may be more effective if you are looking to work through past traumas or explore deeper emotional issues
  • Think about your personal preferences and style in general. Do you prefer a more structured, step-by-step approach or a more open-ended and spontaneous style?
  • Don’t rush. Make sure to choose a counselling professional who is trained and experienced in the approach that you are interested in. It is also important to choose someone who is a good fit for you personally and with whom you feel comfortable and safe

Ultimately, finding a counselling approach that feels right for you and addresses your specific needs and goals is the most important thing. Don’t be afraid to try different types of counselling approaches or switch therapists if you don’t feel like you are making progress. Remember, counseling aims to help you feel better and live a more fulfilling life, and the right approach can make all the difference.