Psychotherapy theories assist with the framework by which mental health specialists including therapists and counselors decipher a patient's emotions, behaviour or attitude. This brings them on a lengthy process from evaluation to full mental recovery.

These approaches or theory are quite necessary as they form an important part of the therapeutic treatment. But because there are so many approaches postulated by different mental health experts, how do you know which of these theories are most suitable for you?

It does not matter if you are a student trying to gain crucial knowledge about counseling techniques or you are a potential patient in search for the best therapist, the following comprehensive explanations and descriptions will point you in the right direction to finding out what works best for you:

This is known as the historical approach. It is a theory which was postulated by Sigmund Freud who was of the belief that unconscious forces were responsible for human behaviour. The theories he formulated such as free association - speaking random thoughts freely with your therapist, dream analysis - the study of the unconscious mind in a state of sleep, alongside transference - which is the transfer of emotions directed to other people now projected towards your therapist. All these are theories that form an essential part of psychotherapeutic treatment in today's society.

This approach allows a direct method for mental health experts to concentrate on past experiences as an underlying cause of present behavioural disorder.

Behavioural Approach

This is an approach which states that people learn behaviour and that these acts are not subconscious. It was a classic conditioning theory developed by Ivan Pavlov a human behavioural therapist and author. He was able to prove this through an experiment using dogs which concentrated on the impact of learned responses through the application of stimuli.

B.F Skinner created another approach with the idea that the reward and punishment system could act as powerful incentives to increase a pleasant behaviour or decrease an unpleasant one. A behavioural therapist alters harmful or destructive behaviour through modification approaches utilizing negative or positive reinforcement.

Cognitive Approach

Back in the 60s, Aaron Becker, a leading mental health scientist in his day propounded a theory which was later to be known as the cognitive theory. This approach highlighted the need to understand how people's thoughts can alter their emotions and behaviour.

Contrary to the psychodynamic approach, therapy founded on this approach relies on short sessions which are geared towards discovering solutions. Therapists who follow this theory concentrate more on the subject's current circumstance rather than on their fractured past.

This therapy has been effective over the years and is responsible for full recovery for mental health diseases such as depression, drug abuse, and personality disorders.

Humanistic Approach

This approach consists chiefly of taking care of the present situation while helping patients obtain the highest level of help they can get. Rather than waste time on trying to find underlying causes through past or destructive behaviour, the humanist approach focuses on a patient's self-improvement today. Client-centric therapy falls under this approach and it was developed by Carl Rogers a leader in the field of human therapy.

Holistic Approach

This approach takes a combination of all the different approaches to assist the patient make a full recovery. It is about covering all bases and leaving no stone unturned towards finding the key to good mental health


These approaches are quite fundamental in today's society to making a full mental recovery.