Four of the Most Common Types of Counseling

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that approximately 44 million Americans experience some form of mental illness in a given year, and of those only about 40% received some kind of treatment (thankfully, more youth did at 50%, but that still leaves 50% who didn’t). Speaking to your doctor, connecting with friends and family, or learning more about mental health online are all ways to get help – but for those who choose to pursue some form of psychotherapy, what might a session look like?

Four of the Most Common Types of Counseling

The Huffington Post recently shared some of the more common forms of therapy, their uses, and what you can expect the experience to be like.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is based around the idea that we can make permanent changes in our behavior by changing our negative patterns of thinking.  It is short-term and goal-oriented, as both therapist and patient work together to identify the behaviors that need to change and then come up with an action plan to do so.

Sessions are generally quite structured and focused on identifying and changing those problematic patterns of thinking and behaving. The patient is usually given homework assignments, which involve keeping records of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors between sessions.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Originally developed to treat patients with suicidal thoughts or ideations, DBT has also been effective in the treatment of borderline personality disorder and other BPD-like symptoms like unstable moods, extreme reactions, panic, and depression. DBT was designed to help patients understand that their thoughts and behaviors were disproportionate to the stimulus that provoked them, then to teach them ways to cope and create space for more measured and moderate ways of responding.

Therapy sessions are focused around problem-solving and interpersonal skills, with patients often given homework to monitor and evaluate their behavior over time.

Family Therapy

Families are more than the sum of their parts, and family therapy considers and treats the family unit as a system with its own unique dynamics. It may address a range of problems, from addiction to interpersonal conflicts, but generally from the perspective of the family as a whole and the interactions between each individual. The family is usually treated in sessions together, but the therapist may also meet with each member individually to get a more nuanced perspective.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is useful for anyone who wants to explore their individual challenges or conflicts in a supportive group setting with others who share similar stories. It can be useful for anyone struggling with anything from depression and anxiety, trauma, addiction, or abuse and the group setting offers the opportunity to learn from the experience of others and receive varied feedback from different perspectives. It also tends to be more economical than individual sessions, which is helpful for those on a budget.

Wake Forest University’s online Masters of Arts in Counseling and Masters of Arts in Human Services degrees are preparing skilled, compassionate counselors and human services professionals to make a positive difference in the lives of others.