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Mental Health

Finding the Best Type of Therapy for You

Let’s talk about therapy! Therapy is something that has made significant progress within the recent few years to become more widely accepted and positively perceived. Even though our generation, in particular, has been progressively vocal about it, there is still a stigma associated when it comes to talks about therapy. As a result, many people choose not to pursue counselling despite experiencing difficult life transitions or significant mental, emotional or physical distress.

What exactly is therapy? As opposed to what some people may consider as “where crazy people go,” it’s not all that black and white. Many people who initiate counselling don’t have a formally diagnosed mental illness. I’m currently studying to become a clinical psychologist and music therapist myself, and I’ve had my fair share of encounters with individuals who have a stereotypical view of the profession. Therapy can help provide support to overcome life challenges and teach skills in managing and resolving distressing behaviours or thoughts. More importantly, the right type of therapy is essential to help you deal with whatever you’re experiencing. There are many types of therapies, and it’s easy to feel confused or overwhelmed by the options.

Therapists receive professional training in a variety of therapeutic areas. It’s important to know why you want to initiate therapy in the first place to find a therapist that accurately suits your needs. If you have no idea what type of treatment you wish to receive, that’s okay! Here are a few common types that may be of interest and a good starting point.


The practice of psychoanalytic therapy originated from the one and only infamous Sigmund Freud. This approach focuses on a client’s unconscious thoughts by evaluating their memories and childhood experiences to examine what events may have an impact on or contribute to current problems. This form of talk therapy is used primarily for depression, personality disorders or other emotional and self-destructive behaviour patterns.

Cognitive Behavioural

Cognitive behavioural therapists focus on two equally important factors. The cognitive aspect focuses on how a client’s thoughts influence their subsequent moods or actions. On the other hand, the behavioural aspect focuses on how a client’s thought patterns are contributing to causing distress and how they can learn behavioural strategies to deal with these issues more effectively. This form of psychotherapy is appropriate for a wide range of concerns ranging from depression and anxiety to general stress or anger issues.

Dialectical Behavioural

Dialectical behavioural therapy is less well-known but steadily becoming more popular within the realm of treatment. This psychotherapy focuses on a client’s self-acceptance and validation and working with the therapist to learn coping skills to control emotions effectively during stressful situations. This therapy approach was initially developed to treat borderline personality disorder but has also been successful for depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse or how to regulate negative emotions and tolerate distress.


Interpersonal therapy evaluates a client’s relationships with others and how some thoughts and behaviours may be causing trouble throughout various interactions. A common goal is to improve a client’s social functioning to reduce distress. This psychotherapy has been successful in treating major depressive disorder, other mood disorders or drug and alcohol addiction.


Therapists who practice with an eclectic school of thought are ones who apply a combination of therapeutic approaches to provide a client with a more individualized treatment experience. A potential client may have to answer questions regarding their problem, treatment goals and their expectations from therapy for the therapist to determine what is or are the most effective forms of treatment. This form of psychotherapy is open for interpretation for whatever problem a client may be experiencing.

There are countless types of therapies ranging from being traditional to more unconventional, including some newer ones such as music or art therapy, laughter therapy, hypnotherapy and many more. Lastly, it’s okay if you don’t get along with your therapist right away or at all. You have the option to either schedule another appointment with them or find a different therapist. One foolproof way of choosing a therapist to start with is to have a phone call or initial consultation with them to gauge their personality and experience. Having a good relationship with your therapist is a strong indicator of a subsequently successful experience! Remember, working with a therapist takes courage and can be a very beneficial experience, but only if you are willing to receive help. Have fun and enjoy it!

Melissa Huen

Wilfrid Laurier '22

Melissa is in her 4th year at Wilfrid Laurier University, studying Music Therapy with a minor in Psychology. When she's not busy raving about her hometown, Vancouver, BC, you can find her baking, travelling, or checking out the newest restaurants in town.
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