Choosing the right therapist – an overview of the different approaches

by Sammy Taylor

Last updated Aug 20, 2020

It’s one thing to admit that we’re overwhelmed, distressed or just needing guidance, and direction, in an area of our lives. But it’s another to have to decide which therapy approach or counsellor is best suited to our concerns, when faced with so many.

Seeking the right therapist, or type of therapy, can, therefore, seem like an overwhelming and daunting task in itself and you’ll often find there are a number of different approaches available, depending on your individual situation.

Read on for an overview of the different types available to help you decide.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is based on the belief that unwanted behaviours and negative thoughts are learned in response to past events, or by how we perceive an event. CBT therefore combines both behavioural and cognitive approaches with the aim of rewiring your thought patterns (cognitive) and changing your actions (behaviour).

CBT recognises that your thoughts and feelings are intertwined, which can often affect the way you interpret an event, as well as your ability to deal with certain situations. For example, if you perceive a situation negatively, you’re more likely to experience negative thoughts and feelings, which will then impact how you behave in that moment.

CBT focuses on current and past life events and addresses the assumptions you might have created based upon these, that have an influence on the way you experience events. This type of therapy works best for those with depression, anxiety, obsessive and compulsive disorders, addictions, fears and behavioural activities that impact your life negatively.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy explores deep rooted events that often begin within your childhood, in order to gain an insight into current beliefs, thoughts and feelings. The belief is that early life experiences are incredibly influential in terms of shaping a person and their psychological development. As a result of this, past events often lead to unaddressed values, beliefs or assumptions.

Psychodynamic sessions are open-ended, as opposed to structured, and you’re often encouraged to speak freely about the current concerns on your mind. Your therapist will encourage you to dig deeper into these and explore any recurring patterns in your thinking, in order to gain a greater self-awareness of unconscious thoughts. The psychodynamic therapist will then aid you in discovering the significance of these events and puzzling the pieces together.

By nature, psychodynamic therapy is a form of talking therapy and is therefore recommended for those that have experienced traumatic events, resulting in mental and emotional stress.

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy is another form of talk therapy, with a focus on thoughts and feelings in response to the present moment, as opposed to past events. This approach seeks to explore the whole individual and their behaviours, and centres on human potential and ability to change in a positive way.

Humanistic therapy believes that all people are inherently good and good intentions are what drive our behaviours. The humanistic approach is therefore used to improve self-development, growth and resilience by identifying strengths and positive traits about oneself, with the aim of improving low self-esteem and feelings related to worthiness.

Without leading the session down any particular path, participants are encouraged to speak freely without judgement, which then allows for the therapist to observe behaviours and patterns. Therapists might also practice experiential techniques, for example, by asking you imagine yourself in the difficult situation you are taking about and noting what you would do, say or how you act whilst in this environment.

This type of therapy is best for those suffering with strained relationships, personality disorders, childhood traumas, negative self-worth, anxiety and depression. Through the techniques provided, it aims to encourage you to find your true potential, maximise fulfilment and encourage you to find purpose and meaning in everyday activities.

See our range of therapists here:

Written by:
Sammy Taylor
Sammy founded in 2019 whilst preparing for brain surgery as a way of incorporating daily motivational messages and inspiring a positive mindset despite hardships. Her mission is to inspire, empower and support others to overcome setbacks and challenges, and change negative mindsets towards events which are out of our control.


The best mental health support for employees.
Rated 4.9 out of 5 by thousands of employees
MacBook mockup
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.