Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Nor does modern-day counseling share much in common with the stereotypes of a client laying on a couch, the therapist interpreting clients’ dreams, or people spending decades in counseling to resolve issues. Finding the right modality of therapy and the correct clinical orientation to address different issues can help create a successful treatment experience.
Choosing the Right Therapeutic Approach
While most types of therapy can address most any issue a client may present, some particular approaches have been proven successful for work on specific issues.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Many studies document the efficacy in mitigating anxiety and depressive symptoms using techniques like assertiveness training, rewriting negative scripts, addressing mistaken beliefs and learning coping skills.
Exposure Therapy: This approach is considered the hallmark technique to help clients overcome phobias.
Supportive Psychotherapy: Clients may choose this type of counseling when they are looking for short- or long-term support to deal with life stressors, if they are unsure of their treatment goals but enjoy the validation and support they receive from the therapeutic relationship, or see therapy akin to “working out” (i.e., as an essential, regular part of self-care.)
Insight-Oriented Psychotherapy: Usually longer in length than CBT or exposure therapy, this orientation aims at helping the client create long-lasting change through developing insight into themselves, patterns of behaviors, family of origin dynamics and unconscious processes.
Solution-Focused Therapy: This specific approach utilizes directed questions and a strong focus on client goals, rather than problems, to help clients move forward.
Eye-Movement Desensitization Response (EMDR) or Holographic Memory Resolution: Both techniques tend to be shorter-term, using as few as one to six sessions to help trauma survivors diffuse distressing memories and somatic experiences of trauma, and to provide relief from PTSD symptoms.
Many other clinical orientations are available to meet clients’ individual needs. If you are interested in pursuing individual, couples or family counseling, ask the potential therapist to educate you about their preferred approach, and whether data exists to support that philosophies’ effectiveness in working on the particular issues you’d like to address.