Five Types of Talking Therapy

Talking therapies are just one option prescribed to treat a variety of mental health conditions. The type of talking therapy recommended for any one individual however, is based on the patient’s diagnosis and the severity of their condition, or conditions. Very often, therapy needs to be accompanied by medication in the form of an anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety or mood stabilising drug, but sometimes medication may not be needed at all. But what exactly are “talking therapies” and how do you know you are accessing the right one?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

The most common, and most often recommended of talking therapies is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).  CBT is a form of psychotherapy which addresses the way we think and the way we act when faced with problems.  It concentrates on here and now life challenges and encourages changes in thinking patterns and behaviours.  It is used in the treatment of a wide variety of conditions including depression, anxiety, panic disorders, phobias and stress.  For more information see our website page on CBT.

Interpersonal Therapy (ITP)

Interpersonal Therapy (ITP) focuses on relationship conflicts and how they affect feelings of self-worth.  It is used in the treatment of depression and aims to help patients find ways of coping with their current problems rather than examining deeply rooted causes of symptoms.  After a short course of interpersonal therapy, usually 8 to 12 weeks, the patient should understand about the nature of depression, recognise the issues that might trigger another episode and have strategies to resolve them.  Interpersonal therapy can also be used as a maintenance tool over several years.

Brief Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT)

Brief Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT), sometimes known as psychoanalytic psychotherapy, was developed for treating depression but also helps with emotional and relationship problems.  It is usually used where a patient has not responded to CBT, or where they choose a psychodynamic approach.  It gives the patient time to think and talk about the feelings they have about themselves and others based on both current and past events and how they are affecting their emotions and behaviour.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) looks at the way a person thinks, feels and acts, and the events and relationships that underlie these experiences.  It brings together ideas from different therapies into one effective therapy.  It is tailored to a person’s individual needs and to their own manageable goals for change and is useful for depression and anxiety.  It is a time-limited therapy – typically 16 sessions of treatment

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy that combines standard cognitive behavioural techniques, reality-testing and mindfulness. It is very useful for a variety of psychological problems, and particularly for borderline personality disorders.

Counselling and Mindfulness Therapies

Counselling differs from the therapies listed above in that it aims to help the patient identify their problem clearly and to come up with their own answers.  It is used to help cope with difficult events but does not aim to change the way you think or act in the same way as psychodynamic therapies.

Mindfulness therapies combine talking therapy with some form of meditation.  It is particularly useful for patients suffering from stress.  It is sometimes recommended to prevent the reoccurrence of depression.


In order to ensure that the correct therapy is undertaken, it is important to ensure that a diagnosis is undertaken accurately.  In many cases a GP is able to make this diagnosis, but where there are severe symptoms or other complex illnesses involved, an assessment from a psychiatrist may be necessary. Dr Winbow and Prof Hale have many years’ experience in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions, including the use of talking therapies. Please get in touch to find out more on how Private Psychiatry is able to help you or a loved one back to full mental health.


Case studies

A 36 year old female patient was referred to us for low self-esteem, self-destructive behaviour and interpersonal relationship difficulties. She had many unconscious conflicts from early childhood with emotional and physical abuse from her father. Every relationship, which was progressing well, she unconsciously destroyed and this was associated with marked anger towards her father and men in general. She received brief psychoanalytic psychotherapy for 20 weekly sessions and gained insight. Her behaviour and self-esteem improved and she was then able to have a more stable relationship with the opposite sex.

A man of 28 years was referred with a phobia of public speaking and a fear of authority figures. He was very shy of the opposite sex and lacked confidence and self-esteem. He had always been an anxious personality and found social situations very difficult. He was diagnosed as having a social anxiety disorder and had a negative attitude about life in general. He received 12 sessions of individual cognitive behavioural therapy which boosted his self-confidence and gave him a positive attitude about the future. He was then able to have a stable relationship with a girl, which helped his social phobia considerably.

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