For those who have experienced therapy in one way or another, you will probably have noticed that not all therapies work the same. From cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to mindfulness-based methods, the different approaches to mental health can vary in scope and application. Research on various types of therapies is extremely helpful in defining the effectiveness of different types of therapies. Through research, scientists and medical professionals can gather evidence-based findings on whether various therapies are safe and effective for treating specific conditions or illnesses.

When it comes to therapeutic treatments, there are often many different options available. Without the proper research, it can be difficult to determine which options are the most effective, and which may not be worth pursuing. For example, some therapies may be more effective for certain disorders, or may be more appropriate for certain communities. The latest research favours a combination of CBT and mindfulness approaches as this type of therapy considers that the mind can be trained to deal with issues like addiction, depression, anxiety, and pain. 

By conducting scientific research, healthcare professionals can determine which therapies are most effective in reducing symptoms, improving quality of life, and achieving other desired outcomes. This leads to better-informed treatment decisions and more successful outcomes for patients.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

This type of therapy focuses on changing negative or irrational thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors that can cause or worsen mental health problems. This type of therapy is particularly helpful in treating anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. CBT is based on the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected and can affect the other. If an individual has the same negative thoughts and beliefs that are repeated over a long period of time, this can lead to negative behaviors and affect the individual physically. The goal of CBT is to help individuals identify and challenge these negative patterns and improve their well-being. The belief is that over time, the repetition of positive beliefs will take over automatically.

During a CBT session, a therapist and client will work together to identify negative thoughts and behaviors, examine the evidence for and against these thoughts, and develop alternative, more positive ways of thinking and responding to situations. 

Research has shown CBT is an effective treatment for a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, among others. It is often used in conjunction with medication or other forms of therapy as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for mental health concerns.

Psychoanalytic therapy

This type of therapy is also known as talk therapy and is the closest to the traditional type of therapy where the individual and the therapist meet once or twice a week and talk about the issues bothering the client. Psychoanalytic therapy is typically viewed as the individual telling the therapist how they are feeling and what their problems are. The goal of this therapy is to help individuals gain insight into their unconscious conflicts and find ways to resolve them. The therapist helps the client talk through experiences and emotions, often beginning with childhood memories, to uncover hidden thoughts and patterns in their personalities.

During a session, the therapist may use various techniques, such as free association, dream analysis, and transference, to help the client understand the underlying causes of their problems. This type of therapy is a traditional form of therapy that focuses on the emotions of the client rather than cognition and behaviors. Research shows that this type of therapy can be effective in reducing symptoms of specific issues, but it can be very intense for the individual as it delves into areas that evoke strong emotions. 

Humanistic therapy 

Humanistic therapy emphasizes personal growth and self-awareness, with the therapist acting as a guide rather than an authority figure. This type of therapy emphasizes the importance of creating a nurturing and supportive therapeutic relationship, as well as fostering individuals’ self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-growth. It aims to help individuals develop a better understanding of their inner experiences and shift patterns of behavior that may be limiting their personal growth. This type of therapy is known by many other names like Gestalt, existential therapy, and transactional analysis. The humanistic approach focuses on self-discovery rather than focusing on individual problems. It involves looking at the world around the individual and that individual’s relationship with that world.

The latest research on humanistic therapy suggests that it can be an effective treatment option for certain mental health conditions, particularly for those who prefer a person-centered approach to therapy. As with psychoanalytic therapy, the research is not as abundant as it is for other types of mental health approaches and of the studies done, it was found this type of therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. While the latest research suggests that humanistic therapy can be helpful for some people, more research is needed to establish its effectiveness and identify which individuals may benefit most from this approach.

Family therapy

This type of therapy involves family members in the treatment process to improve communication and resolve conflicts. Family therapy can include several family members and even close friends of the family who hold important positions within the family dynamic. This type of therapy is designed to foster open communication between family members and help them find healthy ways of resolving conflicts.

The latest research on family therapy suggests that it can be an effective treatment option for certain mental health conditions, particularly for those that involve family or relationship dynamic issues. Research on this type of therapy focuses primarily on the relationship of parent and child during adolescence as this is the age when most mental health issues crop up. Conduct disorder and substance abuse issues are two areas where family therapy has been shown to be effective. With the idea in mind that one-on-one therapy sessions are not as effective as bringing in the whole family who are in a better position to watch the subject and help with therapeutic exercises if needed. The more the family knows about the mental health issue, the more they can help the adolescent and the more effective the treatment. 

Family therapy aims to help individuals and families who may be experiencing difficulties by improving communication, resolving conflicts, and strengthening relationships. Therapy sessions typically involve all family members, with the therapist acting as a facilitator to help family members improve their interactions and functioning as a group.

Overall, the latest research suggests that family therapy can be an effective treatment option for individuals and families who are struggling with a wide range of mental health conditions, particularly those that involve relationship dynamics or family issues.

Group therapy

Group therapy involves many people who are experiencing similar problems coming together to share their experiences and support one another. Examples of this type of therapy are support groups for family members who have mental health disorders, people who have the same interpersonal or social issues, and those afflicted and their support systems like an adolescent and parent. In general, group therapy aims to provide a supportive and accepting environment in which individuals can share their experiences, develop coping skills, and receive feedback from both the therapist or counselor and other group members.

Therapists or mental health counselors, who have completed an msed counseling program at an accredited school such as St. Bonaventure University, are highly skilled on group counseling techniques and will understand the different approaches that are needed to provide a safe and supportive environment. 

One advantage of group therapy is that it can provide individuals with a sense of belonging and social support, which can be particularly effective for those who feel isolated or disconnected. Additionally, group therapy can be a cost-effective treatment option, as the therapist’s time is divided among multiple individuals. This type of therapy is used quite often for groups with shared addictions such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or for caregivers of those afflicted such as Al-Anon. 

Research on group therapy shows that the dynamic of a group environment can be beneficial to those individuals with anxiety, and depression because they feel comforted speaking to other people with the same issues. Research does show that certain people who may benefit from group therapy prefer the one-on-one method. 

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT is often used to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD) and has been found to help individuals learn how to manage their emotions, tolerate distress, and develop healthy interpersonal relationships. It is a combination of CBT techniques mixed in with a mindfulness approach. Adolescents with borderline personality disorder in particular benefit from this type of therapy as it has been found to reduce suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-injury than treatment as usual or psychoanalytic therapy. The latest research indicates that DBT is an effective treatment option for individuals who struggle with emotion regulation or self-harm behaviors.  

Mindfulness-based pain reduction (MBPR)

MBPR is a program that runs for several weeks and focuses on the study of patients with chronic pain like lower back pain or joint pain. Clinical trials in this area aim to use this therapy to minimize chronic back pain with 20 participants over a period of 8 weeks. It is separated into 2.5-hour group sessions with retreats that last all day. The mindfulness strategies include breathing techniques, object orientation, analysis of thought patterns, and awareness of thinking (meta-awareness). 

The research results of MBPR are very new and not fully realized so a definitive opinion on the efficacy of this therapy can’t be shared, but it looks promising as a way of relieving chronic pain when used in conjunction with other medical treatments. 

Mindfulness-based therapies

Mindfulness-based therapies are a form of psychotherapy that use mindfulness practices to help individuals become more aware of their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. These therapies aim to help individuals manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues by developing a greater sense of present-moment awareness and acceptance. Some examples of mindfulness therapies include mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)

MBSR is one of the most well-known mindfulness-based therapies developed in the 1970’s. It involves an eight-week program in which participants learn a variety of mindfulness practices, including body scanning, mindful breathing, and mindful movement. The goal of MBSR is to reduce stress and promote relaxation by focusing the individual’s attention on the present moment.

Research has shown that MBSR can be an effective intervention for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms, and improving overall mental health as well as physical health. Studies have also shown that MBSR reduced chronic pain severity and improved overall quality of life in individuals with chronic pain conditions. It is suggested that MBSR be used in conjunction with other medical treatments to get the most benefit out of the approach.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

This type of therapy was developed more recently in the 1990s for the treatment of depression. MBCT combines cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques with mindfulness practices and aims to help individuals break negative thought patterns and prevent the relapse of depression. The research on MBCT is very promising although still in its infancy. It shows that there is a marked improvement in subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD) and the use of this type of therapy can greatly reduce the re-occurrence of depressive episodes.

Wrapping up

There are many types of therapies available to individuals who need mental health intervention. Research studies are an excellent way to test how these different approaches work and who they would most benefit. Today’s research focuses primarily on CBT and mindfulness programs as effective ways of dealing with issues like chronic pain, depression, anxiety, social disorders, and reduces the instances of relapse. It is always a good idea to view the research posted when embarking on a therapy approach and see if others found it helpful.