If you’re considering therapy, the sheer amount of options can be overwhelming.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy, understanding the different types of therapy available can help you decide which type might be right for you.
Let’s take a look at three popular types of therapy: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Who Should Seek Therapy?
Everyone can reap the benefits from therapy at one point or another.
Therapy can have incredible advantages for people from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. Everyone from busy corporate executives, to stay-at-home parents, to teenagers, to retired adults have found therapy to be an invaluable method of self-improvement.
Not only this, but any person who is struggling with a mental health issue – including depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance use disorder or any other – could find great relief from speaking with a licensed therapist.
Additionally, those seeking increased self-esteem or general emotional support could also benefit from the counseling process.
Ultimately, it’s important that everyone understands they don’t need to face issues alone; professional help is available and is often life changing.
ACT vs CBT vs DBT:
There’s no question about it: mental health is extremely important and everyone should strive to maintain good mental health.
To do this, there are three different types of therapies that may be useful for different needs.
These include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).
Although all three therapies focus on increasing self-awareness and teaching skills to create a life worth living, they approach the process in different ways.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT):
ACT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on increasing psychological flexibility by helping people accept their thoughts and feelings without judgment or trying to change them. This allows them to move forward with their lives in line with their values, even if they have unpleasant thoughts or feelings.
What Strategies Are Used In ACT?
- Acceptance-Based Coping: This strategy encourages individuals to acknowledge difficult situations and emotions but strive not to be controlled by them.
- Cognitive Defusion: Another common technique is cognitive defusion which helps people develop psychological distance from their thoughts and allow themselves to tolerate distress instead of trying to control it.
- Behavior Change Strategies: ACT practitioners often use behavior change strategies such as identifying a value-guided plan with the aim of taking action while still maintaining an overall sense of wellbeing.
- Meta-Awareness: This strategy helps increase self-observation and reflection in order to recognize patterns in thoughts or behavior that might be harmful or disruptive.
By utilizing these four strategies along with other techniques tailored to each individual’s needs, ACT can be highly effective in promoting meaningful lifestyle changes while increasing resilience and resilience.
Who Is Best Fit For ACT?
People best-suited for ACT therapy are those that want to break out of negative thought patterns, address unhealthy personal habits such as avoidance, look inwards at self-defeating behavior patterns, and take meaningful steps toward making positive life changes.
This type of therapy is helpful in treating mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD and substance abuse.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
CBT is a form of talk therapy that focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and changing them into more positive ones. Unlike ACT, CBT focuses on actively challenging these negative thoughts in order to help patients reframe situations in healthier ways.
It also helps patients learn coping skills and problem solving strategies that can be used in future situations.
What Strategies Are Used In CBT?
- Cognitive Restructuring/Reframing: Cognitive restructuring involves actively analyzing negative and irrational thought patterns, challenging them and then replacing them with more rational thoughts. Reframing involves looking at a situation from a different perspective to identify new opportunities for growth or explore alternative possibilities.
- Guided Discovery: This technique involves asking questions that guide the client in exploring the impacts of self-talk and underlying beliefs on their behavior and mood. Through this process of uncovering meaning, clients are enabled to better understand themselves and resolve difficult mental health issues.
- Journaling: This method of CBT means taking the time to properly and thoroughly record experiences and thoughts on paper, allowing individuals to gain insight into their behavior patterns, assess triggers for issues they are facing, and track progress over time. Journaling focuses on the identification and evaluation of thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs and how they translate into behaviors. As such, an individual can look back at their writings as a way to understand why certain reactions occur in certain circumstances.
Who Is Best Fit For CBT?
CBT is an excellent choice for individuals who value structure, are motivated to make meaningful changes that stick, and are open to self-reflection and experimentation. Additionally, practical tools developed through CBT can be particularly beneficial for those trying to cope with ongoing life stressors such as relationship problems or work stress.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):
What does dbt stand for? DBT focuses on helping patients learn skills related to emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance. Components of dialectical behavior therapy emphasize the importance of balancing acceptance with change in order to effectively manage difficult emotions without getting overwhelmed by them or engaging in self-destructive behaviors.
What Strategies Are Used In DBT?
Strategies are based on the “four stages of dialectical behavior therapy” that encourage the patient to explore various emotional states and find healthy ways to cope with distress and other distressing symptoms.
These stages are:
- Mindfulness: In the first stage, the focus is on being present in the moment while accepting oneself with unconditional positive regard and validating experiences as they occur. This helps to reduce rumination and create healthier coping strategies for intense emotions. Mindfulness involves paying attention to each experience without judgment or criticism and encourages living in the “here and now”.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: During this phase, participants build strong interpersonal skills such as engaging in active listening, respecting boundaries, and navigating relationships due to the individualized attention of their therapist. Additionally, patients learn how to present interests effectively while still respecting the other person’s opinion or point of view. This stage was particularly developed for those who struggle with maintaining close relationships; learning how to apply interpersonal effectiveness skills can help free individuals from damaging patterns of behavior influenced by anxious feelings.
- Emotion Regulation: In this stage, individuals learn to recognize and label their own emotions through creating a “mindfulness skill set” that includes rapid emotion identification and conscious choice making. Patients are taught how to accept and validate their own emotional experiences as well as those of others, while also tailoring individualized coping strategies to challenging situations.
- Distress Tolerance: As part of distress tolerance, individuals are encouraged to recognize and tolerate pain in difficult situations without being overwhelmed by strong urges to escape or avoid them. Techniques used for distress tolerance include logical problem solving, accepting reality, learning perspective, improving one’s mood by focusing on other activities, creating self-soothing plans and using self-distraction tactics.
Who Is Best Fit For DBT?
DBT can be beneficial for people looking to better manage their emotions, regulate their behaviors, and improve communication between themselves and others.
It’s an especially ideal treatment option for those dealing with issues such as mood disorders, suicidal thoughts, or aggressive behavior; however, it can also aid those who suffer from anxiety, intense experiences of shame or guilt, difficulty managing stress, and some eating disorders.
In addition, people struggling with substance abuse and addiction have shown success integrating dialectical behavior therapy with the twelve-steps. This combination of therapies ensures that people achieve long-term recovery through a balance of self-acceptance and change.
All three types of therapies have been proven effective for treating many common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Ultimately, the best way to determine which type of therapy would be most beneficial for you is by talking with your therapist about your specific needs and goals for treatment so they can determine which type would be most helpful for you based on your individual needs.
Whatever type of therapy you choose though, remember that it takes time—but it will be worth it! With dedication and consistency you’ll see results soon enough!