Types of Therapy

Helpful Guide to Different Therapy Options


Download our Therapy Options Guide infographic. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

A well-established, highly effective, and lasting treatment is called cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. It focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thinking and behavior patterns. Benefits are usually seen in 12 to 16 weeks, depending on the individual.

In this type of therapy the patient is actively involved in his or her own recovery, has a sense of control, and learns skills that are useful throughout life. CBT typically involves reading about the problem, keeping records between appointments, and completing homework assignments in which the treatment procedures are practiced. Patients learn skills during therapy sessions, but they must practice repeatedly to see improvement.

Watch ADAA's Video on CBT.

Check out four helpful evidence- based videos produced by the Washington University Pediatric & Adolescent Ambulatory Research Consortium, Washington University Medical School. The videos feature ADAA member Melanie Van Dyke, PhD. The videos cover: Evidence-based Therapy for Adolescent Depression, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Selecting a CBT Therapist and How to Know if Therapy is Working.

Read this ADAA blog post: Three Things I Need to Know About CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy)

Download our What is CBT? infographic. 

Exposure Therapy

A form of CBT, exposure therapy is a process for reducing fear and anxiety responses. In therapy, a person is gradually exposed to a feared situation or object, learning to become less sensitive over time. This type of therapy has been found to be particularly effective for obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias.

Watch ADAA's video on Exposure Therapy.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Also known as ACT, this type of therapy uses strategies of acceptance and mindfulness (living in the moment and experiencing things without judgment), along with commitment and behavior change, as a way to cope with unwanted thoughts, feelings, and sensations. ACT imparts skills to accept these experiences, place them in a different context, develop greater clarity about personal values, and commit to needed behavior change.

Watch ADAA's video on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Integrating cognitive-behavioral techniques with concepts from Eastern meditation, dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, combines acceptance and change. DBT involves individual and group therapy to learn mindfulness, as well as skills for interpersonal effectiveness, tolerating distress, and regulating emotions.

Watch ADAA's video on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Often referred to as IPT, interpersonal therapy is a short-term supportive psychotherapy that addresses interpersonal issues in depression in adults, adolescents, and older adults. IPT usually involves 12 to 16 one-hour weekly sessions. The initial sessions are devoted to gathering information about the nature of a person’s depression and interpersonal experience.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a type of therapy that can help you heal from past life events that impact you in the present. Utilizing bilateral stimulation, through eye movements, tapping, and/or tones, EMDR taps into a natural healing process in our brain that helps to “unlock” distressing memories. In doing so, it reduces the overall emotional and physical distress connected to a memory and shifts a negative belief to an adaptive belief. Research supports the effectiveness of EMDR as a therapy to target past traumatic and distressing experiences.

Find a Therapist Near You

Search our ADAA directory of licensed mental health providers who specialize in anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, PTSD, and related disorders.  Many ADAA members also offer telemental health services

Listen to our webinars on CBT: 

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