As well as counselling, there are many other types of psychological therapies, including psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Like counselling, the term 'psychotherapy' is sometimes used to refer to talking therapies in general. However, psychotherapy is also a specific type of therapy. It may also be described as psychoanalytic or psychodynamic.
Psychotherapy is a more in-depth form of therapy than counselling, and it can be used to address a wider range of issues.
A psychotherapist can help you explore your thoughts, feelings and beliefs, which may involve discussing past events, such as those from your childhood.
They will help you consider how your personality and life experiences influence your current thoughts, feelings, relationships and behaviour. This understanding should enable you to deal with difficult situations more effectively.
Depending on your problem, psychotherapy can be short- or long-term. Adults, young people and children can all benefit from psychotherapy. Sessions can take place on a one-to-one basis, in couples, families or in groups whose members share similar problems.
Read more about psychotherapy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that helps you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.
CBT does not remove your problems, but helps you manage them in a more effective way. It encourages you to examine how your actions and thoughts can affect how you feel.
It is based on the idea that the way you think about a situation affects how you feel and act. In turn, your actions influence the way you think and feel. Therefore, it is necessary to change both thinking (cognition) and action (behaviour) at the same time.
CBT is an active therapy and you will be expected to work on your problems between sessions, trying out different ways of thinking and acting, as agreed with your therapist. The aim is for you to develop the skills to become your own therapist.
CBT is usually a short-term treatment. For example, a course may consist of 6-24 one-hour sessions.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends the use of CBT for:
CBT is now widely available on the NHS for treating depression. If you feel that CBT may be helpful, you should first discuss it with your GP. Private therapists are also available.
Before starting CBT, it is recommended that you check that your therapist is accredited by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherpies (BABCP).
Computerised CBT (CCBT) packages are also available. CCBT is delivered in a series of weekly sessions and should be supported by a healthcare professional. NICE recommends CCBT for some people with depression.
Read more about CBT and access to CCBT.
Humanistic therapy incorporates your body, mind, emotions, behaviour and spirituality. It encourages you to think about your thoughts and feelings, and to take responsibility for your actions.
A humanistic approach provides a distinct method of counselling and focuses predominately on an individual’s unique, personal potential to explore creativity, growth, love and psychological understanding.
Group therapy aims to help you find solutions to your problems by discussing them in a group setting. Sessions are led by a facilitator who directs the flow of conversation.
As well as group therapy, many people find psychoeducational groups or courses very helpful. These provide information and skills without having to discuss personal problems in depth.
NICE recommends group therapy for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and for children and young people with mild depression.
Relationship therapy is where people who are having difficulties with their relationship work together with a therapist to resolve their problems. It can be used to help couples, family members or work colleagues.
NICE recommends relationship therapy for people who have tried individual therapy without success.
Family therapy can be used for children with depression, or where a family member has a mental health condition, such as anorexia nervosa or schizophrenia.
Mindfulness-based therapies help you focus on your thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them.
They can be used to help treat depression, stress, anxiety and addiction. Techniques such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises can also be incorporated.
NICE recommends mindfulness-based therapies to help people avoid repeated bouts of depression.
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment that uses eye movements to stimulate the brain. It has been shown to make distressing memories feel less intense.
EMDR can help a person deal with traumatic memories, such as those that occur after an accident, or following sexual, physical or emotional abuse.
In particular, NICE recommends EMDR for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Telephone counselling, such as the service provided by the Samaritans, allows you to talk to a trained therapist without having to meet them.
It may be available through charities or your employer. Alternatively, you may be able to receive counselling by email or through the internet.