What are the basic forms of psychotherapy?

November 2021

The 4 basic psychotherapeutic approaches

With a plethora of psychological approaches from mental health professionals it is no wonder that most patients get confused and waste valuable time trying to figure out which approach is best for them.

In this article I attempt to categorize the main directions and express some opinions about each one.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

It is a form of therapy based on psychoanalytic therapy. The frequency of sessions is usually once a week and the treatment is completed in a shorter period of time than psychoanalysis, always depending on the therapeutic goals.

Through free association, the individual brings to the surface issues and feelings of the past, present and future that concern them. Particular emphasis is placed on childhood and the search for patterns of behavior and thoughts that repeat themselves. The unconscious becomes conscious gradually and the potential defense mechanisms developed over time unfold.

In this process, the role of transference is of great importance, when the treated person redirects feelings for a parent or partner to the psychotherapist, but also of countertransference, the therapist's feelings towards the treated person.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

During this form of therapy the person realizes that it is not the situations that create the various problems but the way we manage and interpret these situations.

Its basic principle is that every behavior is the result of learning and that in order to change it we must modify it through a new learning process (the so-called learning theories).

Finally, this form of treatment seeks outcomes, which are objectively measurable, for example, how many times the person has managed to overcome their phobia of giving a public speech, being in a stressful environment, speaking with confidence to his boss etc.


Humanistic psychotherapy is influenced by humanistic philosophy and Marxism, where the individual is responsible for their own choices.

Unlike other treatments, the focus is on the person's present rather than their past, while emphasizing the strengths and the development of their potential. Each person is unique and valuable regardless of whether their action is positive or negative. The aim of the treatment is self-awareness, which can help to ilife's improvement.

There is already a lot of therapy that falls under the humanistic spectrum, such as anthropocentric and Gestalt therapy.

Combined or holistic treatment

This form of therapy is based on the relationship between mind, body and spirit and encourages self-acceptance rather than change.

The aim of the treatment is for the person to relax, reduce their resistances and release their fears.