It is estimated that mental health conditions affect one of every four Americans each year. For this reason, it is important to understand that there are many different types of therapy. Both for individuals searching for a therapist, or students trying to determine which area of therapy might appeal to them. Therapy helps people face and understand relationship problems, addiction, anger issues, depression and anxiety, spirituality, stress management, self-worth and self-esteem.

Many people don’t realize how many varying levels and areas of therapeutic counseling exist. However, understanding the approaches of each area clears a pathway to what’s most appropriate — and ultimately most effective — for individuals.

The four most commonly practiced types of therapy:

  • Cognitive
  • Behavioral
  • Humanistic
  • Integrative/holistic

Cognitive Therapy

At the heart of cognitive therapy lies the principle that our thoughts directly shape our emotional and behavioral responses. This approach posits that negative or dysfunctional thinking patterns can trigger adverse emotional and behavioral outcomes. By guiding clients to identify and reshape these thought patterns, cognitive therapy aims to transform their emotional experiences and behaviors, fostering healthier responses to their thoughts.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy delves into the mechanics of learning to understand the formation of both adaptive and maladaptive behaviors. A pivotal figure in the foundation of behavioral therapy is Ivan Pavlov. He was renowned for demonstrating how conditioned responses develop. Evidenced by his experiments where dogs learned to associate a ringing bell with the anticipation of food. 

A key strategy employed within behavioral therapy is “desensitization.” This strategy has been particularly effective for individuals grappling with irrational fears. Through this technique, therapists gradually expose clients to the feared object or situation in a controlled environment, aiming to diminish their anxiety over time and foster a more rational response. This method is instrumental in assisting clients to overcome phobias, enabling them to react more calmly and confidently to previously distressing stimuli. 

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy is all about supporting people in making choices that help them live their best lives and reach their highest potential. It’s built on a foundation of genuine concern and respect for others. This approach includes several key types: client-centered therapy, which emphasizes understanding and acceptance; Gestalt therapy, which helps people focus on the here and now; and existential therapy, which explores life’s big questions and how we find meaning. Each of these types shares a common goal: to encourage personal growth and self-discovery.

Integrative/Holistic Therapy

Integrative or holistic therapy combines techniques from cognitive, behavioral, and humanistic methods to create a personalized treatment plan for each person. It’s often seen as an alternative or complement to more traditional therapies. This approach might include a variety of practices such as hypnosis, regression therapy, breathwork, acupuncture, massage, and guided imagery. The goal is to meet the individual’s unique needs, focusing on the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—for healing.

Exploring Careers in Therapy: Conventional and Holistic Paths

The path to becoming a therapist usually involves earning a master’s degree and obtaining a license. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) outlines that mental health counselors have a median salary of $49,710. Marriage and family therapists earn about $56,570 annually. The job outlook is positive, with a projected 18 percent growth for mental health counselors and 15 percent for marriage & family therapists by 2032. 

On the other hand, integrative or holistic therapists often take a different approach. Many are self-employed and choose not to follow the traditional academic route. Instead, they pursue training in holistic health programs and earn certifications in various holistic disciplines, reflecting a unique approach to mental and emotional wellness. 

Advance Your Therapy Career with Touro University Worldwide

At Touro University Worldwide, professionals looking to advance their therapy careers can choose from a variety of programs, such as the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy and the Master of Arts in Psychology. TUW commits to delivering flexible, high-quality education that meets the demands of busy professionals. With a focus on essential therapy and psychology areas, TUW equips students with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in diverse therapeutic settings.