Types Of Therapy: Overview of Four Major Approaches

by The TCNY Care Team

Determining the most suitable therapeutic approach for you can be a daunting task, especially if you're seeking therapy for the first time. There are a multitude of therapy types available, and practitioners typically focus on their areas of expertise.

In order to provide some guidance on your therapy journey, we have provided an overview of four major therapy types and their approaches to give you insight into what you can expect.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-Based Therapies, and Trauma-Focused Therapies are distinct therapeutic approaches with different focuses and techniques.

Here's a brief summary and comparison:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

  • Focus: CBT addresses dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors, aiming to change negative patterns.
  • Techniques: It involves cognitive restructuring, identifying and challenging negative thoughts, and behavioral interventions.
  • Applications: Widely used for various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and phobias.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT):

  • Focus: Originally designed for borderline personality disorder, DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with acceptance and mindfulness strategies.
  • Techniques: Emphasis on emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and mindfulness.
  • Applications: Effective for individuals with emotion dysregulation, self-harm tendencies, and difficulties in interpersonal relationships.

Mindfulness-Based Therapies:

  • Focus: Centered around mindfulness and awareness to promote mental well-being.
  • Techniques: Meditation, breathing exercises, and mindful awareness to cultivate a non-judgmental present-moment focus.
  • Applications: Used for stress reduction, anxiety, depression, and enhancing overall psychological resilience.

Trauma-Focused Therapies:

  • Focus: Tailored for individuals who have experienced trauma, addressing its impact on thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
  • Techniques: Specific trauma-focused interventions such as exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
  • Applications: Effective for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma-related symptoms.


  • CBT vs. DBT: While both involve cognitive restructuring, DBT incorporates acceptance and mindfulness, making it suitable for those with intense emotional struggles.
  • Mindfulness-Based Therapies vs. Others: Mindfulness therapies focus on present-moment awareness and acceptance, promoting a different approach compared to the more cognitive or trauma-focused methods.
  • Trauma-Focused Therapies' Uniqueness: Tailored specifically for trauma survivors, these therapies directly address the impact of traumatic experiences on mental health.

In summary, these therapies offer diverse approaches catering to different psychological needs, with CBT and DBT addressing a broad range of issues, mindfulness-based therapies promoting awareness and acceptance, and trauma-focused therapies specializing in trauma-related conditions. The choice of therapy depends on the individual's specific concerns and needs.


There are numerous therapy approaches available, and determining the most suitable option depends on your unique circumstances, personality, and objectives. The initiative you've taken to conduct research reflects a positive step towards accessing the support that aligns with your needs.

While it is prudent to seek a therapeutic approach tailored to your specific mental health needs or circumstances, it is crucial to bear in mind a few important considerations:

  • The strength of the therapeutic alliance, signifying your confidence in your therapist and their capacity to assist you, plays a pivotal role in your therapy success. This aspect is considered more significant than the specific therapeutic approach, as highlighted by the American Psychological Association.
  • Numerous therapists embrace a versatile approach by integrating various therapeutic methods, rather than restricting themselves to a single type of therapy.
  • Irrespective of the therapeutic method you ultimately prefer, it is essential to consider the qualifications, background, and overall approach of prospective therapists.
  • At Therapy Center of New York, the first ~10 minutes of your initial consultation session are designed to enable you and your therapist to learn about each other and help determine a mutual fit and positive rapport.

Keep in mind that therapy is a collaborative process involving both the client and therapist. Feel free to arrange an intake all with our office today to initiate your journey into therapy.

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