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What Type of Therapy Do I Need?

There are tons of mental health treatments out there, here is a list of a few that are commonly practiced by therapists.

An image of abstract shapes with the text that reads what type of therapy should I be looking for gautier behavioral health

Here is part 1 of a series on different types of therapy modalities out there, what they are used for, and what you might expect from the treatment. These descriptions are a general overview of the treatment and might not apply to every clinician's approach, even if they claim to be a "DBT therapist" or something similar. Often you see clinicians pick skills from many modalities, that they weave into their sessions; however, it is still helpful to know what you might be looking for when you begin your search for a therapist.

Image of CBT information including the cognitive triangle and text saying your perception of a situation impacts you more than your reality


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is probably the most commonly used and well known type of therapy. CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, behaviors, & feelings impact each other, by changing one, you will influence the rest. It also believes that your perception of a situation impacts it more than reality. CBT helps individuals identify and change unhelpful thought patterns that impact wellbeing.

  • Best for: Depression, anxiety, anger, stress management, and many other common complaints that lead people to seeking treatment.

  • Ages: CBT is helpful for children, teens, and adults.

  • Length of Care: CBT was designed as a structured therapy, meaning each session follows a format. This modality of care was designed to be short and goal directed, it can last anywhere from 5-14 sessions. Sessions typically occur once a week and last between 45-60 minutes.

  • Notable Things: There are a lot of types of CBT, including types that focus on the treatment of trauma (TF-CBT), insomnia(CBTi), and psychosis (CBTp).

Graphic of airbrushed wave depicting DBT including the text learning to ride the waves of emotions


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, is a close relative of CBT but emphasizes the importance of using mindfulness and distress tolerance skills to help regulate your emotions. The goal of treatment is to learn how to avoid being caught up in big emotions or thoughts and to use skills to calmly think through difficult feelings.

  • Best for: This specific type of therapy was designed to treat borderline personality disorder but also can benefit other personality disorders, self harm or suicidal thoughts, trauma disorders, mood disorders, and quite a few more complaints.

  • Ages: DBT is helpful for adolescents, teens, and adults.

  • Length of Care: DBT (when done by the book) was designed to include group therapy and individual therapy that occurs weekly for at least 6 months. Often times clinicians use skills from DBT without doing manualized DBT treatment.

  • Notable Things: Some DBT programs for adolescents and teens involve parent coaching, in addition to weekly individual and group therapy for the child.

Graphic of airbrushed clouds and stars with ladders leading up to prolonged exposure therapy in text. Includes the description Using your imagination to process a hierarchy of trauma triggers

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) is a therapy used to treat PTSD, meaning someone who has gone through a traumatic experience and has reoccurring thoughts about the experience, nightmares, hypervigilance, and/or avoid reminders of the trauma. You work with your therapist to create an exposure hierarchy and engage in imaginal exposure, allowing you to face your fears while relearning your response to these triggers.

  • Best for: PTSD

  • Ages: PE is helpful for adolescents, teens, and adults.

  • Length of Care: PE is done once a week for 90 minutes and usually lasts about two to three months.

  • Notable Things: Unlike the other two before this, PE must be done as it was created to be effective and does not work if used only in "pieces".


Nothing on this blog should be taken as replacement for medical, clinical, or professional advice or intervention. All content is for educational purposes only.


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