7 types of therapy (and how they could help you)

Shot of an attractive young woman sitting and talking to her psychologist during a consultation

Published on: 31 January 2023. Written by: Hattie Parish & Olivia Matsell.

Did you know there are many types of therapy, suitable for a range of issues and life circumstances? For this years Time to Talk Day, taking place on the 2nd February, Vitality explains why therapy can be beneficial for anybody.

Each year in England, one in four people experience a mental health problem of some kind, while life events like bereavement, divorce or work pressures can trigger unmanageable stress. 

Ahead of the mental health campaign Time to Talk Day, Mind’s research surveyed over 5,000 adults. They discovered more than one third (36%) of adults over the age of 16 never discuss their mental health, representing 19.6 million people (1 in every 3 people). 

Despite this, there is clearly a need for therapy. Vitality data shows in recent years demand for Talking Therapies has increased five-fold per member since 2015. However, despite this, some people may still be hesitant about reaching out. From anger and addiction to stress and trauma though, therapy can help us with many difficult issues, experiences and behaviours. 

There are many reasons why someone might seek therapy, whether that’s down to a mental health condition or because they’re going through a tough period – all are normal and valid. Jess Kerr-Fearon, Mental Health Clinical Lead, IPRS, explains ‘therapy will help you identify any unhelpful behaviours, understand and challenge thoughts along with giving you the space to discuss what is going on with you life at present.’  

Any negative judgements surrounding therapy usually stem from a lack of understanding – fortunately, that’s something you won’t be met with at your appointment. ‘A therapist will hear your story with empathy and without judgement,’ says Belinda Sidhu, Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at Vitality. ‘They provide a safe, contained space for you to explore and process challenging, sometimes upsetting, thoughts and feelings, and develop better strategies to cope.’ 

Busy lifestyles can get in the way, and we might feel we just don’t have time for therapy. However, ‘one thing the pandemic showed us is that therapy can be done virtually,’ says Sidhu. Cut out travel times and fitting in a session may feel more doable.

Vitality health insurance includes eight online or face-to-face Talking Therapy sessions each plan year. There are several options, including counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).  

Find out more about Vitality’s talking therapy options. 

Different types of therapy: which is best for me? 

There are many types of therapy that can be beneficial. What’s important to note is that ‘talking’ is part of the majority of therapy, and can be one of the most beneficial and rewarding ways to deal with whatever it is you might be going through. Talking is one of the most effective ways to open up about mental health, and therapy is steeped in the practice of opening up and talking. 

These are just some of the different types of therapy your therapist might have working knowledge of.  

  1. Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) ‘focuses on helping people with triggers in the here and now,’ says Kerr-Fearon.  

This type of therapy helps you explore the ways you think, feel and behave, with the aim of identifying any unhelpful patterns. The idea is by changing these automatic negative patterns, you can manage your problems better.  

Suitable for: depression, anxiety, stress, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders. 

Members with Vitality health insurance can use Care Hub to see a Vitality GP, Talking Therapies, and book a virtual or in-person consultant appointment, as well as access everything they need to know about their plan, putting them at the centre of their healthcare journey.  

Find Care Hub in the Member Zone. 

2. Somatic therapy

Somatic therapy aims to ease feelings of being trapped by physical and emotional stress through mind-body exercises. It focuses on noticing physical sensations in the body alongside talking, and can incorporate elements like meditation and breathwork. In particular, it’s believed to release pent-up trauma 

Suitable for: trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, grief, abuse, relationship problems. 

3. Psychodynamic therapy

Derived from psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy emphasises the link between past experience and current behaviour. ‘Psychodynamic therapy has a process element,’ says Morrow. ‘It looks at tenets from childhood and past relationships and how we project those onto our present day life. However, it can fall short in helping us develop strategies for proactive change, so may be better combined with CBT.’ 

Suitable for: depression, anxiety, relationship problems. 

4. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) involves becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings as they happen, using mindfulness techniques like meditation and breathing exercises alongside cognitive therapy. ‘It can be combined with acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT,’ says Morrow. ‘This helps people learn to tolerate the intensity of their emotions, anxiety or depression, rather than react to them, then brings in aspects of CBT for the action part.’   

Suitable for: depression, anxiety, stress, mood disorders. 

5. Systemic therapy

Sometimes used as a generic term for family or couples therapy, systemic therapies explore ‘transactional’ patterns in relationships. ‘It helps people understand how they operate within their family systems, and how the patterns they learnt in past family dynamics can be projected onto the present,’ says Morrow.  

Suitable for: family issues, relationships, couples, business counselling. 

6. Humanistic therapy

Humanistic therapies encourage self-reflection and taking responsibility for your own thoughts and actions, so you can move towards reaching your full potential. 

Approaches include Gestalt therapy (where you focus on your immediate thoughts and feelings to understand how you relate to others), person-centred therapy (where a counsellor offers empathy and acceptance to help you become your ‘true self’), and transactional analysis (which explores our common patterns of communication).  

‘Therapies like this can help clients be proactive in creating change,’ says Morrow. 

Suitable for: anxiety, depression, stress, addiction, self-esteem, relationship problems, trauma. 

7. Integrative therapy

Integrative psychotherapy is just that – an integration of many therapeutic approaches. Your therapist will ideally have experience and training in a range of therapies and can create a tailored treatment plan for you, drawing from different aspects.  

‘When therapists are integrated they can provide a range of approaches, and the client is often served better,’ says Morrow.

As a Vitality member with a qualifying health insurance or life insurance plan, you can receive mental health support through a range of partner brands. 

Log into Member Zone to find out more on how to support your mental health. 

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