Choosing a type of therapy

There are more than fifty types of therapeutic approaches so choosing therapy that fits you can be daunting. Most therapists blend therapeutic approaches and customise an integrated approach for each client.

Professionalising the messy reality of what it is to be human, whilst arguing which professional can do it the best is not helpful to anyone. The capacity to create healing relationships is about the person regardless of the profession or the modality and the person they seek to help. Remember this.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Developed from Psychoanalysis, it stresses the importance of the unconscious and past experience in shaping current behaviour. It involves examining your emotions, relationships, and thought patterns.
A psychodynamic therapist will aim to build an accepting and trusting relationship, sometimes encouraging you to talk about your childhood relationships with your parents and other significant people.
Expect an emphasis to be placed on free association (sharing thoughts, words, and anything else that comes to mind) interpretation and especially transference, where feelings you experienced in previous significant relationships are projected onto the therapist and worked with/through.

Counselling & Psychotherapy

Integrative counselling looks at the whole person, taking into account your mental, physical and emotional needs. Your therapist will use techniques and tools from different modalities to tailor an individual approach for you.

An integrative counsellor aims to build a trusting and non-judgmental relationship that helps you develop self-awareness. When you understand the causes of your concerns or triggers for your behaviour, you can confidently set goals and develop new behaviours to improve your satisfaction with life.

Like Psychodynamic therapy, Integrative therapy requires a substantial investment of time on the part of the client. Therefore it may not suit those who want a quick, solution-focused approach to personal development.


Existential therapy is a unique form of psychotherapy that looks to explore difficulties from a philosophical perspective.

Focusing on the human condition as a whole, existential therapy highlights our capacities and encourages us to take responsibility for oursuccesses. Emotional and psychological difficulties are viewed as inner conflict caused by an individual’s confrontation with the givens of existence. Rather than delve into the past, the existential approach looks at the here and now, exploring the human condition as a whole and what it means for an individual.

Counsellors/therapists can help you confront your anxieties and negative thoughts, enabling you to make decisions about how to live life and deal with life problems in your own way.

Arts Psychotherapies

They are psychological therapists who have arts-based experience and training in psychological interventions using drama, movement, music or art to help clients communicate feelings and emotions.

Arts based psychotherapies include a wide range of techniques which can help you find a way of expressing yourself beyond words or traditional talking therapies. An image, a drawing, painting or collage, a clay figure, a piece of music, or a story can clarify what is being communicated in the therapy and bring about deeper understanding of the self in an indirect way.

Arts based Psychotherapists may use different approaches at different times to suit your needs. Expect an emphasis on creative expression and an opportunity to draw upon your own inner creative resources and express your feelings without necessarily using words.

Cognitive Behavioural
Therapy (CBT)

CBT aims to help you change the way you think (cognitive) and what you do (behaviour). Rather than looking at past causes, it focuses on current problems and practical solutions to help you feel better now.

The way we think about situations affects the way we feel and behave. If we view a situation negatively, we may experience negative emotions and feelings which lead us to behave in an unhelpful way.

Your therapist will help you identify and challenge any negative thinking so you can deal with situations better and behave in a more positive way.

Interventions are usually brief (6-12 sessions) and often involve weekly ‘homework’.


Humanistic therapy involves better understanding your world view and developing true self-acceptance. This is accomplished partially through the development of unconditional positive regard, both from others and from yourself.

Humanistic therapy tends to focus more on your current day-to-day life. It encourages people to think about their feelings and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions. The emphasis is on self-development and achieving your highest potential rather than on problematic behaviour.

Gestalt therapy, person-centred therapy, transactional analysis and transpersonal therapy are all humanistic approaches.

Person Centered

Person or client-centred therapy is based on the view that everyone has the capacity and desire for personal growth and change, given the right conditions. Rather than being seen as the expert and directing the therapy, the counsellor offers unconditional positive regard (accepting and valuing you), empathy (seeing your viewpoint as if they were you) and congruence (being honest and transparent in how they experience you and your world) to help you come to terms with any negative feelings and to change and develop in your own way.

You’ll be encouraged to bring your own issues to the session – the counselling is led by you and not directed by the counsellor.

We hope you found this guide helpful!

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Chance Marshall
Written by

Chance Marshall


Chance is Founding Partner at Self Space and Head of Written and Digital Content. He has a grounded, creative and empathetic approach in working with clients towards self-awareness and real, lasting personal and interpersonal change.