These are the main types of psychotherapy

When deciding to take psychological treatment for your mental health, it is important that you bear in mind that there are several types of psychotherapy that exist .

Psychotherapist in the middle of a session with a man

This is a scientific treatment that a therapist performs through different techniques to help the patient overcome their problems and improve their quality of life. / Photo: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | July Vanesa Romero

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Leer en español: Estos son los principales tipos de psicoterapia

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is one of the best known psychological treatments used by experts. This is a scientific treatment that a therapist performs through different techniques to help the patient overcome their problems and improve their quality of life. According to the definition of the Dictionary of the Spanish Language, of the RAE, this is a "treatment of mental, psychosomatic illnesses and behavioral problems through psychological techniques".

There are a wide variety of types of psychotherapy that are designed to help patients with mental illness. Thus, knowing the different psychotherapies that there are will help you to know which is the most suitable for you, and approach a professional who will help you deal with what perhaps seems intractable.

How is psychotherapy divided?

Psychotherapy is divided into "schools" or orientations. Some of the main ones are: the psychodynamic school, the behavioral school and the humanistic school (also known as the humanistic-existential school). Thus, each of these schools as a whole are called "psychotherapies". It should be noted that although there are divisions by schools, each psychotherapy does not have a defined scientific approach, so these tend to vary, but they always remain at the root of their school.

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In this school we find different approaches, for example, the famous psychoanalysis. In the specific case of psychoanalysis, the Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, treated his patients through free association and dream analysis to help them access repressed feelings and unconscious memories and thoughts. This allows the therapist's analysis to make interpretations and acquire more self-knowledge.

In this type of therapy, the expert usually notices the patient's resistance to help him approach them in a way that does not generate so much anxiety to be able to take action on the matter. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on helping patients better understand the impact of their unconscious, the relationships they have, and traumatic or critical childhood experiences.


This school includes: cognitive-behavioral (CBT, in English, acceptance and commitment (ACT) and dialectic-behavioral (DBT) therapies. In the behavioral school, therapists see behavior as the main problem, so they seek for the patient to learn and be conditioned to eliminate said behavior in order to overcome their problems while replacing it with a behavior that is more functional and beneficial for their life. Thus, behavioral therapy addresses the behavior to improve emotions and moods.


The psychologists belonging to this school do not focus so much on the past or the unconscious, but consider that it is more important to understand the present and future, although, like psychodynamics, it has an inward look. In this, there are two approaches: the one focused on the client or patient and the humanistic one. For this school, the human being has the ability to make rational decisions, achieve self-acceptance and its maximum potential.

In that order of ideas, humanistic psychotherapy seeks to help the patient to grow personally rather than to cure an illness. In fact, in this therapy, therapists refer to the people they serve as clients and not as patients. In this type of therapy, the expert focuses on listening to his client carefully and with empathy so that the person feels that he is in a place where he is accepted and can work on himself.

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