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Common Types of Therapy and What They Treat

When starting counseling, it can be challenging to know which course of action is best for you. And while your therapist will likely guide you in regarding the right resources and treatment, it can be helpful to know what’s available to you. Of the dozens of therapies available, these seven are of the most common:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most common types of therapy, and it can treat a wide array of behavioral health concerns. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on exploring how a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors interact. During CBT, the therapist will actively work with the patient to uncover unhealthy patterns of thought and examine how they may be causing self-destructive behaviors or beliefs.

Can be an effective treatment for: anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT can be used to treat various mental health concerns, but most people who incorporate DBT treatment have borderline personality disorder as a primary diagnosis. Dialectical behavioral therapy emphasizes validation, or accepting uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In DBT, the therapist’s goal is to help the patient find the balance between acceptance and change. When a patient comes to terms with the troubling thoughts, emotions, or behaviors they’re facing, it can be easier to create a gradual plan for recovery.

Can be an effective treatment for: most commonly, borderline personality disorder.

Exposure Therapy

In exposure therapy, a person works with their therapist to identify what triggers their anxiety and learn techniques to avoid becoming anxious when they are exposed to them. During treatment, the patient will confront their triggers in a controlled environment where they can safely practice implementing their coping strategies.

Can be an effective treatment for: obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias.

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy focuses on the relationships a person has with others, with a goal of improving the person’s interpersonal skills. In this treatment, the therapist will help the patient evaluate their social interactions and recognize negative patterns, such as social isolation or aggression, and ultimately helps them learn strategies to enhance their interpersonal skills.

Can be an effective treatment for: most often used to treat depression, but can be used for other things.

Art Therapy

Art therapy helps patients interpret, express, and resolve their thoughts and emotions. Patients work with an art therapist and use various art mediums to help them interpret and find resolutions to those issues.

Can be an effective treatment for: People have experienced emotional or physical trauma, domestic violence, depression, anxiety, and other psychological concerns.


During sleep, most people alternate between regular sleep and rapid eye movement (REM). This sleep pattern helps us process things that are troubling and helps update our brain’s ability to adapt to stressful or traumatizing situations that are rooted in the past. EMDR replicates this sleep pattern by alternating between sets of eye movements, and brief reports about what we are noticing. This alternating process helps us update our memories to a present, healthier perspective, and can be helpful in changing thoughts and feelings associated with past events and/or traumas.

Can be an effective treatment for: Post-traumatic stress disorder

Group Therapy

Participating in group counseling is similar to individual counseling, except patients join other people who may be experiencing a similar situation or problem. Together, the group can share experiences and work together toward recovery and well-being.

Many groups are designed to target specific concerns which can include but are not limited to: depression, social anxiety, obesity, eating disorders, or substance use disorders.

Starting on your counseling journey can be intimidating, but Centerstone can help. Call us 877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) or visit our counseling services page to learn more.

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