Wondering if therapy is right for you? You’re not alone.
Seeking help from a mental health expert is something many people consider, especially when:
- facing a significant crisis
- dealing with an extended period of anxiety or depression
- coping with a major life transition
- dealing with complicated family dynamics
- grappling with problems in a relationship
- trying to manage addiction or substance abuse
- wanting to make changes for better mental and emotional health
Regardless of your reason, therapy offers a broad array of benefits for all of us. Here are six types of therapy and the benefits of each.
Talk therapy (aka psychotherapy) is a tool used by:
Talk therapy encourages open and honest dialogue about issues that cause you distress. Through your relationship with your therapist, you’ll work to identify and understand how these stressors are impacting your life, plus develop strategies to manage the symptoms.
If you’re still on the fence about the benefits of talk therapy, consider this: About 75 percent of people who participate in talk therapy experience some benefit, according to the American Psychological Association.
What can talk therapy help with?
Psychotherapy is a tool that therapists also use to facilitate counseling sessions. They can use this technique for individual, group, couples, or family therapy.
In the case of individual therapy, the relationship between you and your therapist — which is fostered through talk therapy — is key to your success.
Individual therapy gives you a safe space to explore your thoughts, feelings, and concerns.
Unlike couples, family, or group therapy, individual therapy focuses solely on you. This allows for a deeper understanding of the issues and more time for developing coping strategies to help you handle difficult situations.
The goal of individual therapy is to inspire change and improve the quality of life through self-awareness and self-exploration.
Being in therapy can also:
- help improve communication skills
- help you feel empowered
- empower you to develop fresh insights about your life
- learn how to make healthier choices
- develop coping strategies to manage distress
When families face hurdles that seem a bit too high to conquer on their own, they may seek help from a family therapist. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, a therapist can:
- evaluate and treat mental and emotional disorders
- evaluate and treat behavioral problems
- address relationship issues within the context of the family system
Unlike individual therapy, treatment isn’t just for one person — even if that’s the only member of the family working with the therapist. Instead, the focus is on the set of relationships that make up the family unit.
Some of the most notable benefits of family therapy include:
- improving communication skills
- providing help treating mental health concerns that impact the family unit (such as substance abuse, depression, or trauma)
- offering collaboration among family members
- developing individual coping strategies
- identifying ways to find healthy support
Think couples therapy is only for people having problems? Think again!
Marriage and family therapists are the first to say that couples therapy is an effective way to keep a relationship on track before it goes off the rails. But if the strains are real and communicating is almost impossible, going to therapy allows couples to meet with a neutral party.
One of the foundational goals of couples therapy is learning how to improve interpersonal dynamics. A 2016 research reviewTrusted Source suggest that couples therapy is an effective treatment when a couple is experiencing individual and relational distress.
Couples seek therapy for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common benefits cited by couples include:
- improving communication skills
- resolving conflict
- restoring lost trust
- increasing shared support
- restoring intimacy
- learning how to support each other through difficult times
- forming a stronger bond
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a blend of two other therapies: behavioral and cognitive.
Therapists use this technique to treat many conditions, including:
- anxiety disorders
- bipolar disorder
- eating disorders
- substance abuse and addiction
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
In CBT, your therapist will guide the sessions with an emphasis on the important role of thinking in how you feel and what you do.
In terms of effectiveness, CBT has proven successful as a treatment option on its own or as a supplemental therapy to medication for several mental health conditions, including:
- anxiety disorders
- bipolar disorder
A 2017 research reviewTrusted Source found that CBT has a positive impact for people living with bipolar disorder by:
- reducing depression levels
- reducing the severity of mania
- decreasing the relapse rate or how often people experience mania and depression
- increasing psychosocial functioning, which means improving abilities and experiences in day-to-day activities and relationships
A 2015 reviewTrusted Source reports that CBT is the most consistently supported psychotherapeutic option for treating anxiety disorders.
The way we seek help is changing as more providers move to online platforms. Just the idea of having options is one of the benefits of online therapy, or teletherapy.
Not only does this allow you to meet with a therapist from wherever you might be, it also gives you the freedom to choose the delivery method of that therapy. In other words, you can reach a therapist from your phone, an app, or online.
This may make it easier for you to find a counselor you connect and communicate well with.
The ability to get help for mental health this way means more people have access to therapy than ever before. It also helps minimize the stigma attached to mental health, and it gives you options.
If you’re worried about online therapy not being as effective as the in-person kind, consider the results from this small 2014 study. Researchers found that internet-based treatment for depression was equally beneficial as face-to-face therapy.
While over-the-phone and online therapy may not work for everyone in all situations, it’s an option to try.
Just as there are options to speak with a therapist over the phone, voice chat, and online, there are:
- tips to find the right therapist for you
- ways to find affordable therapy
- tools to find resources and care near you, such as the NAMI HelpLine and Healthline’s FindCare
If you’re looking into therapy, another place to start is by talking with a general physician about getting a referral.
Working with a psychologist, therapist, or counselor in a therapeutic relationship gives you an opportunity to explore your thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behavior.
It can also help you learn new coping skills and techniques to better manage daily stressors and symptoms associated with your diagnosis.
Benefits of counseling
- Explore thoughts, feelings, and worries without judgment.
- Develop coping strategies for different situations.
- Practice self-reflection and awareness.
- Work on habits you’d like to change.
- Improve, understand, and communicate about relationships.
- Chiang K, et al. (2017). Efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy in patients with bipolar disorder: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. DOI:
- Hewison D, et al. (2016). The effectiveness of couple therapy: Clinical outcomes in a naturalistic United Kingdom setting.
- Kaczkurkin AN, et al. (2015). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: An update on the empirical evidence.
- Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. (2020).
- Wagner B, et al. (2014). Internet-based versus face-to-face cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression: A randomized controlled non-inferiority trial. DOI:
- What is marriage and family therapy? (n.d.).