Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 9/17/2022
Talk therapy can be a helpful tool for many people. In fact, it can help people who deal with stress, can’t focus, are navigating a life change, have anxiety or depression or who just want to keep their emotional health strong.
The key is that you need to make sure the therapy you get will work for you and your specific needs. That means zeroing in on the type of therapy you need, working with the right therapist and learning how to get therapy that works for you.
Not all therapy is created equal — at least, not for your specific needs. Whether you’re struggling with a serious mental illness (like bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder), have relationship struggles or are just dealing with everyday life stress, there are different types of therapy that can help you.
A healthcare provider can help you assess the best type of therapy for your specific needs.
Some of the types that may be suggested include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): With CBT, you will look at patterns that negatively influence your life and figure out ways to change those things.
Dialectical behavior therapy: Now used to treat people with anxiety disorders (a la post-traumatic stress disorder), this type of CBT was originally used to treat those with borderline personality disorder.
Interpersonal therapy: The idea here is that poor relationships can cause a range of issues in your daily life. This form of therapy helps you improve your interpersonal skills.
Psychodynamic therapy: If not dealt with, issues from the past can continue to impact us. The treatment plan in this type of therapy revolves around lots of reflection.
Family Therapy: This type of therapy (which includes marriage therapy), helps address individual psychological issues that affect relationships, marriage problems and child-parent relationships.
Fact: if you don’t trust the mental health professional you’re working with, it’s not going to work.
The American Psychological Association backs this up. According to the APA, the relationship you have with your therapy provider is as important as using the right method of treatment when it comes to obtaining a good outcome.
Think carefully about what type of person you would feel most comfortable sharing your issues with. Would you feel more able to open up to a woman? Or maybe you’d like someone a bit older and experienced? Some people prefer their mental health specialist to have a doctoral degree.
It can also be smart to ask people you trust for a referral. If you feel okay with it, ask a friend or family member if they know a therapist who could be good for you. Medical doctors (like your primary care physician or OB-GYN) can also be good resources to ask for referrals.
Once you find someone you think may be a good fit, schedule an introductory appointment so that you can ask them questions to feel them out.
You can ask about their training, how they might treat you, how they track progress and more. It’s also a good idea to find out what their pricing is and if they take your health insurance plan.
When you find someone you like, you’ll be able to really partner with them to make your mental health a priority.
Not only are there different types of therapy, but there are also different ways you can participate in it.
Sure, you can go the traditional route of going to a therapist’s office and meeting with them in person. Many people prefer this and take comfort discussing their mental health issues in person.
But there’s also online therapy. Not only can it be cost-effective, but many people also find it easier to fit virtual therapy into a busy schedule since they don’t have to commute anywhere. You may also feel more comfortable chatting with someone from your own home.
Think about what would make you feel most willing to open up — meeting with someone in-person or the ease that online therapy brings.
By picking a format that fits best with your lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to stick with therapy.
And, when you commit to therapy, it has a better chance of working for you.
From helping address mental health conditions to assisting with relationship issues or everyday stress, therapy can address a wide range of issues.
But to make mental health services really work for you, there are a number of things you can do.
One thing that is very important is knowing what type of therapy may be best for you. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common forms, but there are a number of types that can speak to your specific needs.
Finding a therapy provider you connect with is also crucial.
Whether you want someone with a specific degree (like a doctoral degree or social worker degree) or you want someone who is the same gender as you, it’s all about finding someone you feel you could be open with during therapy sessions.
You should feel free to interview potential therapists until you find the right fit.
While you’re at it, consider whether you want to meet with someone in real life or virtually.
Hers offers online therapy that can be convenient and effective.