Treatment Types

Not all psychologists will provide treatment for the example situations listed—or they might use a different treatment for these examples.

Psychologists often use a blend of several of the techniques described here. Here are some of the most common treatment types you’ll find within our listings as well as a quick overview of what they might entail. These are examples to help guide your search. Please contact a psychologist’s office to discuss their particular areas of expertise and treatment types to determine whether their practice meets your needs. It can be helpful to know each psychologist’s expertise and what treatment would be utilized in your sessions before you even schedule your first appointment.

Focuses on encouraging the patient to accept their thoughts and feelings without negatively judging themselves, including difficult thoughts or behaviors, and to take action to improve their situation and achieve behavior change.

Involves clear identification of a specific behavior to change and often needs frequent monitoring. Often used for school problems or other childhood difficulties, such as autism, or other developmental problems.

Focuses on specific behaviors and not necessarily on any underlying condition or disorder. Often used to correct behavior caused by phobias and some mental disorders such as OCD and ADHD.

Intended to establish control over physical problems by using machines to help patients monitor and control their biological reactions to certain stimuli. Patients are usually connected to machines that monitor muscle tension, blood pressure, body temperature, or other physical processes. Often used to treat stress disorders, headache, and hypertension.

One of the most common types of therapy used. Helps patients identify and change thoughts that lead to undesired behaviors. Used for many disorders or situations and helps develop coping skills. While there is no single type of cognitive behavior therapy, most forms involve having the patient identify and change thoughts that cause personal distress.

A specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Focuses on modifying beliefs related to trauma, such as self-blame. Often used for treating PTSD and other trauma. Is often fairly short-term therapy of 12 sessions or fewer.

Allow therapy to occur via the internet instead of in person—via real-time connections such a video calling or other electronic communication such as email or messaging. There are many considerations for the patient before deciding to participate in this type of therapy. A few examples of many: (a) are you comfortable seeing a psychologist on a computer screen and not seeing a therapist in person, (b) does the psychologist have license to practice in the state you live? (c) are all technological components and third-party platforms used by the psychologist HIPAA-compliant and secure? (d) does the psychologist have an informed consent document before beginning therapy, (e) does your insurance cover this type of treatment?
Search tip: To search telehealth/telepsychology providers, search by state name. Additionally, contact providers in your area to ask if they are currently offering telehealth services.

Integrates mindfulness, which is the ability to be fully aware of your surroundings and how you feel in the present moment, into an interactive therapy that focuses on dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors. Balances change and acceptance for behavior modification. May be used for mood disorders, sleep disorders, suicidal behavior, and unstable personality dynamics.

A process for claiming disability benefits from an employer or for qualification from the government for Social Security disability payments. Some psychologists specialize in disability determination evaluations.

The existential or humanistic approach to psychology emphasizes focusing on an individual patient as a whole person, rather than a collection of symptoms or on one specific psychological problem. May be used for common problems like depression and anxiety and sometimes for personal growth. This may also be called client-centered therapy and uses a non-directive approach.

Involves the entire family, instead of an individual patient, to address all family environment contributors to mental health concerns and recovery. May be used for families that include an individual with ADHD, depression, eating disorder, or other dysfunction. Some psychologists specialize in doing family systems therapy, and sometimes family systems therapy is combined with individual psychotherapy.

Involves hypnosis, or a state of deep relaxation that allows patients to tune out distractions and zero in on specific thoughts. Hypnotherapists may also make suggestions to the patient to encourage behavior changes. Contrary to popular belief, patients undergoing hypnotherapy recall all elements of the procedure and cannot be compelled to say or do anything they do not wish to. Hypnotherapy can be used as a standalone therapy or can be combined with other therapies and may be used to treat eating disorders, depression, anxiety, phobias, chronic pain, or as a component of substance abuse treatment.

Aims to assist patients with brain injuries to improve changes in emotions (mood), cognitive processes (memory and attention), and psychological effects of brain injuries through a combination of psychological treatment, physical therapy, and technological intervention. This treatment may follow a diagnosis of stroke, injury to the brain from accidents, dementia, or learning disabilities.

Evaluates cognitive functioning, such as for attention, memory, language, or spatial awareness. Often used to determine level of impairment after traumatic brain injury but may also be used to determine effects of illness on brain functioning.

Mostly used for children in therapy, as play is a major way children interact with the world and their immediate environment. By observing a child playing with toys in a therapeutic setting, the therapist can observe behaviors and ask questions. Often used to treat childhood behavioral disorders and learning disabilities.

Treatment focuses on the patient’s personality, and the unconscious mind to address psychological problems that may originate from past trauma or childhood events. Psychoanalysts use talk therapy to change thoughts and emotions rather than behaviors. Can be used for a variety of disorders or situations. Psychoanalytic therapy may often be long-term.

Focuses on how unconscious motives, such as inner conflicts or forgotten traumas, affect behavior. Involves talk therapy. Used in a wide variety of disorders and situations and often involves many visits, although short-term psychodynamic therapy may be used.

Refers to psychotherapy offered for sex-related issues due to aging, psychological barriers, gender reassignment surgery, or disability. Can help with erectile dysfunction, low sex drive or desire, or pain during intercourse and may be combined with medication or other treatment interventions. Therapy prior to gender-reassignment surgery is a specialized area that not all sex therapists provide. No form of sex therapy ever involves sexual acts with the therapist.

According to social learning theory, problematic thoughts and behaviors do not originate from the patient’s own mind, but are learned through social interaction. Social learning theory usually is a component of other psychotherapies and is usually not offered on its own.

Involves magnetic stimulation or pulse to the brain to alter brain activity. Electrodes are attached to the scalp and a painless electrical pulse is transmitted to brain regions. A relatively new treatment that is still being tested and vetted through scientific studies, it may provide benefit for depression and other mood disorders when other treatment methods are unsuccessful. Unlike electroconvulsive treatment, patients are awake and conscious throughout the procedure.

Also known as career counseling. Can help individuals decide between potential careers or re-evaluate a career path, transition to a new role, or improve job performance. Often involves the use of psychological testing to determine aptitude or interest.

A psychological and medical process to get a person back into the workforce or adapt to changes in ability after injury or illness. Usually offered in combination with physical therapy or occupational therapy.