A Guide to 4 Psychological Treatments

This article is a guide to the different treatments available for people struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on modifying problematic thoughts and behaviours by helping the patient identify, challenge and replace these thoughts and behaviours. It is intended to help patients overcome dysfunctional thought processes and behavioural patterns which may be causing distress. CBT can help people recognise distorted thinking and break the habits of negative thinking. It has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including depression, generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, bulimia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of therapy that focuses on helping people not fight against psychological difficulties but instead simply accept and be willing to experience difficult "emotions" and life events. The theory is that the attempt to control or change thoughts or emotions (i.e. using cognitive strategies) makes the individual feel worse in the long-term, and thus ACT aims to help people create a clear and balanced space in their mind, maintain their psychological flexibility, accept things that cannot be changed and commit to goals that can be achieved.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) was initially developed for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. DBT is based on the idea that people have the capacity to hold opposing concepts in mind at the same time (dialectic is defined as a dialogue between opposing points of view). Unlike traditional behavioural approaches, DBT attempts to balance acceptance of difficult emotions and experiences with changing how one deals with those emotions and experiences. For example, if someone feels extremely upset after being criticised by others, their therapist may help them accept that feeling while also encouraging them to explore ways of changing that feeling or reacting to it in a less extreme way.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is a type of psychotherapy that uses cognitive behavioural therapy to manipulate the way people think about their relationships. IPT is designed to integrate behaviourism, cognitive psychology and interpersonal theory into a treatment approach that aims to teach people how they can interact more successfully with other people using a variety of skills. IPT has been adapted for use in various settings to assist people suffering from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders.

For more information about psychology treatment, contact a local counselling service.