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Therapy Comparison - which treatment is best?

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The best treatment is the one that works most effectively for you.  Nevertheless, all therapy treatments are found to be helpful by some of those who try them, and if one doesn't seem to be helping after giving it a reasonable chance, then perhaps you should consider trying a different method until you find some benefit.  The sheer variety of psychological therapies can make choosing quite confusing, so to make matters a little easier we have listed below what are perhaps some of the most popular types, including a brief description of each.


Counselling aims to help you understand why you feel the way you do.  It also helps you to plan how to cope with practical realities and their emotional effects.  Counselling helps you to live your life the way you want, by discussing present problems and realistic alternative solutions.  Counselling provides helpful social support at a time when you need it most.

Behavioural Counselling: aims to change behaviour.  The main objective is to relieve a certain issue by carefully studying the behaviour patterns that led to it.  Responses can then be modified by learning new and more appropriate ways of dealing with the issue.

Humanistic Counselling: is focused toward personal growth, and aims to help us achieve our optimum potential.  Meditation, massage, dancing, group meetings, and any other method which may be likely to help people under stress is made use of in order to integrate the health and overall well-being of the person as a whole.

Rogerian counselling: aims to 'mirror back' our own understanding of our self, or our issues, which, in turn, helps us to take a fresh look at our thoughts and feelings, to share our experiences and to discuss further development.  This model of counselling does not aim toward telling us what to do, but instead helps us to work out for ourselves what we want and how best to achieve it.

Rational-emotive counselling: helps us to take a closer look at the way in which we worry about our concerns.  This involves focusing on the often irrational ways in which we think about difficult and troublesome problems, then helping us to find more appropriate and less stressful ways of dealing with them.

See also: Counselling | Person-centred counselling | Why counselling?

Behavioural therapy

Behavioural Therapy is based on the belief that all behaviour is 'learned' and therefore can be changed or 'unlearned'.  The aim of behavioural therapy is to help you to stop behaving in negative or unwanted ways and also to help you to learn new and more positive behaviour patterns.  This type of therapy focuses on how you behave now and not on the theories about why you learned to behave the way you do.

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive Therapy is based on the belief that changes in our behaviour and emotions are determined by our thoughts about everyday situations that we encounter.  If we always view things in a negative way, or feel frightened and worried, we will automatically begin to interpret everything we encounter in this way.  So, cognitive therapy aims to help you identify and alter negative and unhelpful patterns of thought.  Some parts of behavioural therapy may be incorporated in cognitive therapy.

Family therapy

This type of therapy sees you as a member of a family or social group. Family therapy is largely concerned with how the various members of the family or group interact with each other in terms of communication and relationships. Family therapy aims to remove conflict and distress while remaining non-judgemental, and does this by using various psychotherapeutic approaches.

Group therapy

Group therapy is where a number of people get together with a therapist in order to share ideas and possible solutions.  It is likely that the members of a group will not have previously met prior to therapy.  A group may comprise of people with mostly the same type of problem, or with different problems.  A group may also be same sex, or mixed.  This type of therapy aims to show group members that they are not isolated or alone in having problems, and, as such, can provide a good deal of social support.


Hypno-therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which the patient becomes hypnotised. Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation and concentration during which the subconscious mind become more accessible.  During hypnosis, specific suggestions offered by the hypnotherapist are more easily accepted, leading to permanent positive change in the behavioural patterns of the individual.  Hypnotherapy is a mode of treatment for those suffering with many different maladies; whether physical, mental, or psychological.  Those with phobias, obsessive compulsive disorders, maniacal states, and panic attacks regularly respond to the positive commands offered by the hypnotherapist during hypnosis.  It should be noted, however, that hypnosis is not a panacea for all ills, and that for hypnotherapy to be most effective, the patient must genuinely want to achieve a positive outcome.


Psychoanalysis is based on the theory that our behaviour and mental condition originate in early childhood experience.  Depending on the school of psychoanalysis, the meaning of what you say is interpreted differently.  A large proportion of the time spent in psychoanalysis is spent discussing the relationship between patient and therapist, as this is taken to represent the relationship between you and people who were important in your younger years, such as your father, or mother.  Sessions of psychotherapy usually take place several times each week and can be spread over a period of years and can become quite demanding in terms of both time and money.


Talking is the main tool of Psychotherapy, and the different schools encourage open discussion about all the different aspects of your condition.  Psychotherapy sessions generally take place weekly and can continue over a period of six to twelve months.  Any treatment that uses no drugs or other physical means to achieve results could be called psychotherapy.

Supportive psychotherapy

Supportive psychotherapy aims to provide sympathy, reassurance and encouragement on a regular basis. Supportive psychotherapy sessions are more informal and can be held less frequently than formal psychotherapy - maybe once a fortnight, or monthly.

Other therapies

Important note: This list includes details of only a few therapies. There are many others available to try.

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