What Are the Different Types of Counselling? – Hear from a therapist…

In Part 1, experienced therapist Wendy Capewell set out the benefits of counselling. Here in Part 2, she will explain the different types of counselling techniques available…

“So let’s now look at some of the many types of therapies out there. I am not going to go through them all as there are a vast number and some are very similar and overlap.  If you want to find out more then you will find a link at the end of this article. I have studied some of the main ones and I trained as an Integrative Counsellor, which means I have a wider variety of tools in my tool chest.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

This is the type of therapy you are most likely to be offered by your GP. It aims to help you change the way you think about things and in turn change your behaviour. It looks at the current problem and offers practical ways in which you can deal with them, usually in a more positive way than you may have done previously. This therapy is usually 6 – 10 sessions.

CBT can be helpful for depression, anxiety, stress, phobias, obsessions, eating disorders and managing long term conditions.

Short term solution-focused brief therapy

This therapy is very similar to CBT, in that it also looks at offering practical ways of creating positive change. This type of therapy is likely to be offered if you have medical insurance through your employer, and as it suggests is only a few sessions, between 4 -10.

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR was developed to resolve symptoms resulting from disturbing and traumatic life experiences and is especially helpful in the treatment for those who have suffered trauma, including childhood sexual abuse. Where CBT isn’t suitable for treating such conditions, GP’s will often offer this if you ask.

EMDR works on rapid eye movement which its believed can heal the trauma. You can read about it more in depth in the link at the end of the article.

Gestalt therapy

The name Gestalt comes from the German meaning ‘whole’ or ‘pattern’.  This type of therapy looks at the individual as a whole and also their surroundings, rather than taking things apart. Again it focuses on the here and now, finding new and positive ways of looking at things. This therapy often includes acting out scenarios and recalling dreams. Its effective in treating anxiety, stress, addiction, tension and depression.

Person-centred therapy

Person or client-centred therapy is based on the viewpoint that each of us has the ability and desirability for personal growth and change. The therapist takes a real back seat, allowing the individual to find their own way. They support the client with empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence to help them deal with their negative thoughts and beliefs, rather than challenging the client’s views.

Transactional analysis

Transactional analysis incorporates some of the aspects of humanistic, CBT and psychodynamic therapy, (which we haven’t looked at yet). It basically looks at the human personality as being in three – Parent, Adult and Child –  and by exploring the behaviours in that way helps individuals understand their interactions with each other.

Humanistic therapy

This therapy is similar to Gestalt, focusing on the person as a whole, taking responsibility for their actions and thoughts. Its emphasis is on self-development.

Gestalt therapy, person-centred therapy, transactional analysis and transpersonal therapy are all humanistic approaches.

Family therapy

As it indicates, family therapy looks at the family system and relationship between the members of the family. It encourages each person to express and share their concerns, emotions and thoughts with each other in a safe environment.  Helping them understand each other and thereby build stronger relationships.

Relationship therapy

Relationship therapy is pretty explanatory too. The therapist helps those struggling in a relationship, and the way they interact with each other, helping them understand their own patterns of  behaviour as well as those they are in a relationship with. Whether it’s family members, a couple, friends or work colleagues.

Systemic therapies

This therapy aims to change patterns of behaviour between members of a system, much like Relationship therapy.

Emotionally focused therapy

Emotionally focused therapy  is a way of working with relationships. Helping to create, reinforce and strengthen relationships by learning to understand your and others emotions, thus responding in a better informed manner and having more understanding of triggers that previously brought about negative responses.

Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)

CAT examines past experiences and relationships to try to understand why you behave and think in the way you currently do. The therapist then helps you make sense of this and helps you find healthier ways of dealing with your current problems. This is time-limited, usually lasting around 16 weeks.

Cognitive therapy

This is very similar to CAT above and can be helpful in changing negative images of yourself. Both can help pessimistic or depressed people to view things from a more positive outlook.

Jungian  or analytical psychology

Named and developed after Carl Jung. This takes a psychoanalytic approach. It works with the conscious and unconscious, aiming to bring them in line with each other, helping the individual become more rounded and balanced in their outlook. This therapy can include working with dream analysis. Psychoanalytical therapies work at a deeper level, helping individuals have a better understanding of themselves, helping them make positive changes to their outlook, emotions and problem solving. It can help with all kind of issues. This is usually longer term therapy.


This therapy was developed by Sigmund Freud, who believed that psychological problems are rooted in the unconscious mind. The theory here is that a person’s past can influence later life, whether emotional, or behavioural.  By exploring the past and also using dream analysis it brings repressed feelings to the surface, allowing negative thoughts and emotions to be dealt with in a more positive way. This therapy is often long term.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy

The psychodynamic approach is very similar to psychoanalysis but focuses far more on the current problems. It too looks at past experiences, as well as looking at the relationship between the therapist and the client, and how the client can transfer past feelings onto the therapist. This too is long term therapy.

Art, play and creative therapies 

Whilst the above are talking therapies, for some, including children it can be too distressing or difficult to talk about their feelings. Or perhaps they are unable to order their thoughts into words. Let’s face it, some people are far more visual, so these therapies can help an individual release some of their emotions, stress, and feelings, which they are unable to verbalise. They can include dance, painting, sand play and much more.

They can also create a safer environment for the client where they begin to trust their therapist and are able to talk.


There are those that believe that Counselling is about the past, whereas Coaching only focuses on the present and future. As you can see from above, it really depends on the counselling model. But Coaching does encourage individuals to achieve greater self-awareness and work towards better management skills and goals. This is much more directional than counselling and often clients are made accountable for agreed goals. Coaching is often used in situations such as sports, or in the workplace.

Whilst the following are not true counselling, they can be extremely helpful in helping change negative thoughts.

NLP  – Neuro Linguistic Programming

Developed in 1970s,  when an Associate Professor from the University of California, Santa Cruz, John Grinder, teamed up with an undergraduate Richard Bandler. It takes the view that we each form our internal map of our version of the world  by filtering information through our five senses. It also uses hypnotherapy. Read more in resources at the end. NLP is generally used as an additional way of working with other types of therapy rather than on its own.


This is a form of complimentary therapy, using the power of suggestion to bring about subconscious changes to our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Stage hypnosis is very different to this and a hypnotherapist won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do! Find more information in the resources below. This kind of therapy can be very helpful for those struggling with fears and phobias.

I hope this has helped de-mystify Counselling

I have tried to make the definitions above as simple as possible. I believe in plain English and don’t use psychobabble. I also hope you aren’t so fearful of it.

GP’s are great at helping with physical problems, but they don’t have the training to help with emotional ones.

Counsellors undergo extensive training and have often experienced their own traumas which they have worked through so therefore can empathise you. No – they won’t and can’t understand what you are going through, because your feelings are unique to you.

But by being there, listening, empathising and supporting you, they will help you make sense of whatever you are going through. Enabling and empowering you to find a positive solution.

How do I find the right counsellor or therapist for me?

All of the above-mentioned therapies are self-regulating, which means you need to assure yourself that the therapist is satisfactorily qualified and competent. Do ensure they have Public Liability Insurance and you are perfectly entitled to ask to see their documents if they are not readily on view. I have listed below, several places you  can  find a qualified Counsellor.

Some may list themselves as experts in lots of areas of symptoms, but do check further and satisfy yourself that they have the level of experience you want and need.

Finally remember it’s important to find the right person for you. If you don’t feel comfortable you probably won’t feel able to trust the counsellor enough to say what you really want to, which means you won’t get the results you want and need. If you aren’t happy, tell the therapist – they really want to know how best to help and support you.


Further reading about types of therapy – https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/types-of-therapy/

EMDR –http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/

NLP – https://www.nlpacademy.co.uk/what_is_nlp/

Hypnotherapy – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hypnotherapy/

BACP https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Therapists

UKCP – https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/find-a-therapist/

Counselling Directory – https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/


See Part 1 of Wendy’s two guest blogs in this series, where she sets out the benefits of counselling during divorce. Read Part 1 here.


Wendy Capewell is based in Hampshire and Surrey and works with couples and individuals. To get in touch with Wendy, click here.  


To find out how I might be able to help you with the practical side of your divorce and separation, please get in touch here – Contact Rhiannon. 


If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you will find lots more in my ebook “Tips for Coping with Divorce” which you can download here: free ebook.

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