How to Choose the Best Type of Therapy For You

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Deciding you’re ready to go to therapy is a huge first step. It is worth taking a moment to honor this decision because it is one that will likely change your life. However, the steps to finding the therapy you need can be rather daunting. In particular, choosing the right kind of therapy for you can be an exhausting battle.

There are many different types of therapy, and the kind you need is dependent upon what you’re hoping to heal. This article will explain how you can choose the best type of therapy for yourself. 

The Importance of Choosing the Right Therapy for You

Choosing the right kind of therapy for yourself is crucial in meeting your therapeutic goals, which gets you to feel better faster. Also, therapy can be very expensive, with a recent Verywell Mind survey stating the average cost per session is $178.

Getting clear on the right therapy for you can save you time and money. There are many different reasons why you may be seeking out therapy. You could be experiencing interpersonal problems, healing from trauma, trying to get sober, or need extra support for a stressful event in your life. Or, perhaps you’re experiencing all of the above.

Regardless, understanding why you’re ready to go to therapy will help you identify what therapy you need. 

How Do I Know What Kind of Therapy I Need?

Folks often turn to therapy when they’re feeling overwhelmed and burdened by their emotions. Having to decide exactly what you need from the experience can lead to even more distress.

It is completely normal to feel stressed and it is OK if you don’t know what kind of therapy you need.

Think About the Things You Want to Work On

Consider writing down the top three things you’d like to work on in therapy. For example, maybe it is the loss of a parent, the stress of beginning a new job, and generally feeling anxious on a daily basis. This would translate into you seeking support for grief, stress, and anxiety.

You can then search online for therapists who specialize in any of those areas and book a consultation with them.

During the consultation, you can ask them what kind of therapy they practice and why it would be a good fit for you. Mental health professionals don’t expect clients to be experts and are happy to provide some insight into what they do.

Different Types of Therapy

There are many different types of therapy, which can make the process of choosing the right modality even more tiring. Worry not, below you'll find information about popular treatment modalities.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular structured and goal-oriented talk therapy that is has proven efficacy in treating many mental health ailments, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and personality disorders.

It is a straightforward approach that focuses on one’s thoughts, inaccurate perceptions of self and others, and underlying beliefs. It is considered a short-term therapy with treatment typically lasting between three to four months.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of talk therapy that focuses on the relationship between the client and the therapist. In this treatment, it is believed that much of people's beliefs regarding themselves and others are unconscious and shaped by both their childhood and genetics.

The therapist will use information gathered from how the client feels towards the therapist and how the therapist feels towards the client to guide the treatment. Utilizing the therapeutic relationship in this way offers rich material—it allows the therapist to consider how others may perceive the client outside of the therapy room, which can give deeper insight into their presenting problems.

The end goal of psychodynamic therapy is to support the client in decreasing their symptoms and increasing their sense of authenticity and uniqueness. 

Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy is a treatment that is growing in popularity. Often suggested for the treatment of trauma, somatic therapy can refer to somatic experiencing, eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), or brainspotting. Somatic experiencing targets the sensations associated with a traumatic experience.

EMDR utilizes bilateral stimulation, which is a series of eye movements, sounds, or tapping that stimulates both sides of the brain, to help folks process their trauma.

Brainspotting uses an individual’s visual field as a mode of processing trauma and incorporates one’s memory, emotions, and sensations associated with the traumatic event.  

What If I'm in Therapy and Want to Try Something New?

You could be working with a therapist already and might doubt if their treatment technique is right for you. That is completely normal.

Let your therapist know that this is a concern of yours. Part of a therapist’s role is to provide insight into the therapeutic process and support you in finding healing. It could be that you are receiving the right form of therapy for you but haven't progressed far along enough in treatment to see great improvement.

It's Always OK to Make a Change

You could also be in the depths of a treatment that is great for you, but your therapist may not be the best match. Or, you may discover that you’d like to try a different treatment modality altogether. Each of these things is normal, and there is no shame in making changes to your treatment.

A Word From Verywell

There are a few things that may be helpful to keep in mind as you traverse your healing journey. First, you can always try a session or two out with a therapist to see if their style or technique is the right fit for you.

You can always change providers, as well. Finding a therapist is your journey, and it can be healing to exercise your autonomy and make adjustments along the way. Don't get discouraged if it takes time to find the "right" therapist for you. It's a process, and not every therapist will be a good fit.

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  4. Kuhfuß M, Maldei T, Hetmanek A, Baumann N. Somatic experiencing – effectiveness and key factors of a body-oriented trauma therapy: a scoping literature review. Eur. J. Psychotraumatol. 2021;12(1):1929023. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2021.1929023

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By Julia Childs Heyl
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.