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Types of Psychotherapy for Mental Illnesses

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, also known as ‘talk therapy’, is a treatment for those who struggle with mental health challenges. Psychotherapy can support people’s development with emotional awareness, behaviours and thoughts that are connected to their mental health diagnosis. Psychotherapists also help clients understand the circumstances contributing to their illness, cope with life stressors, and regain a sense of control.


Psychotherapy can be delivered in different formats and with different modalities to suit the needs of the service user. Some of the formats that psychotherapy can be delivered in is:


  • Individual – Including the individual and therapist. You and your therapist evaluate your challenges and identify goals you’re wanting to achieve
  • Group – A group setting allows individuals to share their experiences with others who can relate, creating a safe space to connect and understand
  • Couples/Marital – Supports partners in navigating their challenges, understanding each others emotions and thoughts, as well as problem solving as a team
  • Family – A space for a family unit to connect, understand each other’s perspective, and how to work together as a team. A therapist can help a family understand each others emotions and how to manage them to support growth in family dynamics


The 5 Most Common Types of Psychotherapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT uses a scientific, philosophical and behavioral approach to understand our thinking patterns, how it can impact our emotions and behaviours, and how to problem-solve them. The scientific approach in CBT is treating our thoughts like theories to be tested, where the philosophical approach helps us develop flexible and self-helping beliefs.


CBT Supports:

  • Depression/Anxiety
  • BiPolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Eating Disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia, ARFID)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychosis


Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is rooted from Cognitive Behavioural therapy that focuses on acceptance-and-change. The word ‘dialectic’ means two opposing things being true at the same time, for example, someone wanting to prioritize themselves first but always will put others needs above their own. DBT can support individuals in navigating those two truths through acceptance and change. Dialectical Behavioural therapy offers a range of ways to cope through and challenge unhealthy behaviour patterns (lying, self-harm) in different formats such as, phone-call support, group therapy, or individual therapy. Some of the concepts that DBT includes are: core mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.


DBT Supports:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • ADHD
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • Depression
  • Suicidal/Self-Injurious Behaviours


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, otherwise known as ACT, is a modality that guides individuals in exploring their values, challenging limiting beliefs, and taking committed actions aligned with their values. It guides individuals in taking action to change the ways of living that are disrupting personal fulfillment. Some of the concepts that are discussed in ACT are: focusing on values, committing to action, viewing self-as-context, defusing thoughts, acceptance and paying attention to the present moment.


ACT Supports:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Eating Disorder
  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Chronic Pain


Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy utilizes the rapport between clinician and patient to support finding their own voice and exploring the meaning they have placed onto events in their lives. Narrative therapy allows the client to externalize themselves from the challenges they have been through to begin creating more of an understanding of their story and improve decision making, experiences and relationships.


Narrative Therapy Supports:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Grief
  • PTSD
  • ADHD


Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy will explore the relationbship between a client’s past experiences with their current mindset. Psychodynamic therapy can often bring more awareness to the unconscious mind and how this manifested in current behaviours or thinking patterns. Through sessions, a patient can develop understanding and ways of managing the thoughts and feelings.


Psychodynamic Therapy Supports:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addictions


Tips for effective therapy 

In order to achieve the benefits of psychotherapy, there are some aspects to consider:


    • Participate. It can be overwhelming to be vulnerable about life’s biggest challenges, and by being vulnerable, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to work through and challenge the things that are not working for you
    • Be Vulnerable. By being vulnerable, you’re allowing space for connecting and rapport between you and your therapist, as well as bringing to surface the things you have kept inward. By bringing them forthright, you’re able to understand and learn from these experience to create more positive ones
    • Attend All Sessions. Getting to therapy can be difficult in itself, but by showing up to all your scheduled appointments, you continue moving through the process of healing
  • Work Outside of Sessions. To work through during sessions is wonderful progress, and the work continues outside of sessions. Be sure to practice techniques while you’re not in therapy sessions to continue progress
  • Patience Through Progress. Working through challenges can take time. Be patient with yourself as progress can feel slow. Good things take time, as does healing.
  • Make Time for Self. Allow breaks and compassion while working through your healing journey. 
  • Communicate. Communicate with loved ones, yourself, and your therapist in asserting and expressing your needs.


Choosing a therapist

To help you find the best therapist and service for your needs, book a free consultation with the Care Team at BeWell. They will take the time to understand your concerns, preferences, and goals, guiding you towards the perfect match. Through our online website and through our administrative team, we are happy to book you with the most appropriate practitioner across the GTA

About the Author

Nichole Williamson

Registered Social Worker
Nichole has worked with children, youth, and their families over the last three years, using Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, CBT, Family-Based Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy and Solution-Focused Therapy approaches. She has a drive and passion to support those who are suffering from mental, emotional, and behavioural challenges by providing a safe space to talk and come up with ways to manage these challenges within their daily lives.