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Psychotherapy is a type of therapy that focuses on an individual’s current problems. Rather than delving into past traumas, a psychotherapist will help patients identify and reframe negative patterns of thought and behavior. Psychotherapy is a valuable treatment for emotional and mental health issues and helps individuals improve their well-being through various approaches.

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What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is talk therapy that can treat many mental health problems and emotional issues. Psychotherapy is performed alone or in conjunction with prescription medication.

You can develop a therapeutic relationship with your counselor by attending regular therapy sessions. This therapeutic relationship aims to open a dialogue that helps you identify and overcome problematic thoughts and behaviors.

Your psychotherapist should be a licensed mental health professional.

Various healthcare professionals can become psychotherapists, including:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Family therapists
  • Licensed counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychiatric nurses

Types of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can come in a few different forms. Each of these psychotherapy formats serves different purposes.

The various types of psychotherapy are:

  • Individual therapy: One-on-one sessions between you and a psychotherapist
  • Group therapy: A small group of individuals with a common issue, led by a single therapist
  • Family therapy: Family members (2 or more) work with a therapist to improve the family dynamic
  • Couples therapy: Two partners work with a psychotherapist on relationship concerns
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Psychotherapy Techniques

Psychotherapy encompasses many techniques. Each type of therapy takes a different approach, and what you choose might depend on your particular issues.

Each therapist is different, so there are variations within each technique. However, generally speaking, here is a list of the most common psychotherapy techniques and what you can expect.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy focuses on helping patients identify cognitive distortions that negatively impact their daily lives. Cognitive distortions are unhealthy thought patterns or biases, such as black-and-white thinking or jumping to conclusions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) works by developing a positive therapeutic relationship between the patient and the psychotherapist. During sessions, the therapist helps patients recognize unhealthy thinking and behavioral patterns and shift them into more positive habits.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) aims to teach people how to live in the moment rather than dwelling in the past. DBT combines helpful strategies like mindfulness and acceptance to help patients acknowledge their current reality and work towards a healthier future.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic psychotherapy tends to be a long-term therapy process. Patients work with their therapist to uncover unconscious emotions and discover how these feelings are impacting their daily behavior.

Patients in psychodynamic therapy will use these self-discoveries to develop better coping mechanisms and improve behaviors that may be causing problems in the present.

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy helps patients identify and improve their interpersonal relationships, particularly relationships that negatively impact their lives. During treatment, patients may practice social skills through role-playing and other exercises.

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy focuses on helping patients learn to be comfortable being their true selves. It can be ideal for improving self-esteem and supporting patients in recognizing what makes them unique.

Psychoanalytic Therapy

Psychoanalytic therapy is a form of psychotherapy developed from Sigmund Freud’s practice of psychoanalysis. Sessions usually involve the examination of the patient’s subconscious thoughts and how they impact a person’s conscious thoughts and daily behavior.

What Does Psychotherapy Treat?

Psychotherapy can treat various issues, from situational emotional distress to severe mental disorders. Different types of psychotherapy are also often used to treat individuals recovering from substance use disorder.

Psychotherapy and Addiction

If you or your loved one seek help for addiction, then your treatment plan will likely contain some form of psychotherapy.

Treatment for substance abuse and substance use disorder often incorporates psychotherapy to help recovering addicts identify potential substance use triggers and learn better ways of dealing with problems that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.

Psychotherapy is usually offered at most treatment centers, both at the inpatient and outpatient levels. For inpatient treatment, psychotherapy often takes the form of group therapy and individual counseling and is typically part of a patient’s daily schedule.

Outpatient rehab centers will also usually provide some form of group therapy and may include one-on-one counseling.

Psychotherapy and Mental Health Care

Psychotherapy is frequently used to treat many mental health conditions, including:

What to Expect From Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy sessions can be one-on-one with a therapist or might take place in a small group setting (such as group or family therapy). Sessions generally last 50 minutes and occur once per week for the duration of treatment.

Because psychotherapy helps patients work through difficult emotions and discover negative mental or behavioral habits they might have, sometimes sessions can be challenging.

However, these tough sessions don’t mean the therapy isn’t working. In fact, it’s more likely the opposite is true!

With the help of your therapist, you can work through the short-term emotional difficulties that come up through therapy and make incredible, lifelong changes to improve your life.

Benefits of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy offers many benefits, including:

  • Helping improve your self-esteem
  • Teaching you new, healthy coping skills
  • Improving your social and communication skills
  • Developing healthier thinking patterns
  • Increasing awareness of negative thoughts and behaviors
  • Providing deeper insight into your life and your inner self
  • Building stronger family bonds
  • Confronting and getting past phobias
  • Helping you manage symptoms of mental illness
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How to Find Psychotherapy Treatment Options Near You

You can review the website for any local mental health services to find a psychotherapist in your area. You can also check your health insurance directory to get referrals for local psychotherapists in your network.

You can also use the SAMHSA’s online treatment locator (or call 1-800-662-4357) to find out what recovery programs are available in your area. Be sure to ask beforehand what types of psychotherapy any particular treatment center offers.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Psychotherapy

Is psychotherapy helpful for treating addiction?

Yes, psychotherapy is especially helpful in treating substance use disorder. Two of the most common types of psychotherapy used for treading addiction include Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

What is the best psychotherapy for substance use disorder?

The most common types of psychotherapy used in treating substance use disorder are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

How does psychotherapy help with addiction recovery?

Often, addiction arises due to poor coping skills and other internal issues and often occurs alongside mental health disorders. Psychotherapy helps recovering addicts learn better ways of dealing with their problems and addressing these issues.

Instead of self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, addicts in recovery can use the tools they learn through psychotherapy to make healthier choices and build better lifestyle habits.

Is psychotherapy expensive?

The cost of psychotherapy sessions will vary based on the type of therapy selected (e.g., individual VS group therapy) and other factors, such as the clinician’s expertise.

Depending on your insurance plan, health insurance may mitigate some (or all) of the cost of psychotherapy sessions.

How does psychotherapy work?

There are many different approaches to psychotherapy, but the overall goal is to help patients recognize maladaptive thoughts and behaviors. In turn, patients and their therapists will work together to reframe these negative beliefs and habits into more healthy, productive daily behaviors.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. American Psychological Association. (2017, July 31). What Is Psychotherapy?. American Psychological Association.
  2. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, April 11). Psychotherapy. Mayo Clinic.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2024, February). Psychotherapies. National Institute of Mental Health.
  4. WebMD. (2022, September 4). Types of Psychotherapy for Mental Illnesses. WebMD.
  5. What Is Psychotherapy?. – What Is Psychotherapy? (2023, April).

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