5 Common Therapy Programs

July 2, 2024

In the behavioral health industry, treating substance use disorders is a principal focus. While everyone is different, and everyone’s story of addiction is unique, many common therapy programs are still available to behavioral health professionals and treatment centers.

Common Therapy Programs

When it comes to addressing addiction and mental health issues, several therapy programs have proven to be effective in helping individuals on their path to recovery. Here are five common therapy programs that are frequently utilized:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely recognized therapy program used in the treatment of addiction and various mental health conditions. Originated by psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960s, CBT focuses on challenging and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviors. It aims to improve emotional regulation, develop coping strategies, and promote problem-solving skills. CBT is considered one of the most effective treatments for depression.

2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was initially developed by Marsha M. Linehan in the 1980s to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder and chronic suicidal tendencies.

DBT is an evidence-based psychotherapy approach that emphasizes psychosocial aspects of therapy. It combines cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies to foster psychological flexibility. DBT has shown effectiveness not only for borderline personality disorder but also for other mental health conditions.

3. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a therapy program that blends cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies. ACT aims to help individuals accept what is out of their control and commit to actions that enrich their lives. It focuses on fostering psychological flexibility and increasing individuals' ability to tolerate distressing thoughts and emotions.

4. Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic Therapy explores how past experiences and unconscious emotions influence an individual's current behavior. This therapy program involves self-reflection, examination of past experiences, and the therapist-client relationship. Psychodynamic Therapy aims to enhance self-awareness and gain insight into underlying causes of psychological distress.

5. Family Systems Therapy

Family Systems Therapy views individuals within the context of their family and focuses on improving family dynamics and communication patterns. It recognizes that changes within the family system can bring about positive change in individuals. Family Systems Therapy aims to enhance understanding, improve relationships, and promote healthy functioning within the family unit.

Each of these therapy programs offers unique approaches and techniques to address addiction and mental health issues. The choice of therapy program depends on individual needs and the expertise of the therapist. Through these therapy programs, individuals can gain valuable insights, develop coping strategies, and work towards lasting recovery and improved well-being.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapy program that aims to help individuals identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors. It is considered one of the most effective treatments for various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and stress.

Overview of CBT

Invented by psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960s, CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and developing personal coping strategies to problem solve effectively [5]. The core principle of CBT is that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and by changing our thoughts, we can change our feelings and behaviors for healthier patterns.

CBT is typically conducted on a one-on-one basis or in a group setting. It involves working collaboratively with a therapist to identify and address specific issues or concerns. The therapist helps the individual recognize negative or distorted thoughts and beliefs and assists in developing alternative, more adaptive ways of thinking.

Techniques Used in CBT

CBT utilizes various techniques to help individuals challenge and restructure their thoughts and behaviors. Some common techniques include:

  • Cognitive Restructuring: This technique involves identifying negative or irrational thoughts and replacing them with more realistic and positive ones. By challenging and reframing negative thought patterns, individuals can change their emotional responses and behavior.
  • Behavioral Activation: This technique focuses on increasing engagement in positive and fulfilling activities to improve mood and reduce avoidance behaviors. By setting goals and gradually increasing activity levels, individuals can regain a sense of pleasure and accomplishment.
  • Exposure Therapy: This technique is used to address anxiety or phobias by gradually exposing individuals to the feared situation or object in a controlled and safe manner. Through repeated exposure, individuals learn to manage their anxiety and develop new coping strategies.

Applications of CBT

CBT has proven to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions. It is commonly used for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Insomnia

The flexible nature of CBT allows it to be adapted to different individuals and their specific needs. It can be provided in individual therapy sessions, group therapy, or even through online platforms, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals seeking help for their mental health concerns.

By helping individuals challenge negative thoughts, develop healthier coping strategies, and make positive behavioral changes, CBT empowers individuals to take an active role in improving their mental well-being.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a widely recognized and evidence-based therapy program that was initially developed by Marsha M. Linehan in the 1980s to assist individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) who were experiencing chronic suicidal behaviors. Over time, DBT has proven effective in treating various mental health conditions and is now considered a gold standard method of treatment for individuals with BPD.

Overview of DBT

DBT is a multifaceted and structured psychotherapy approach that focuses on the psychosocial aspect of treatment. It combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with mindfulness practices to help individuals regulate their emotions, improve relationships, and develop essential coping skills [7].

Core Components of DBT

DBT consists of four core components that work together to address the needs of individuals:

  1. Skills Training: In DBT, individuals learn specific skills to manage emotions, cope with distress, improve interpersonal effectiveness, and enhance mindfulness.
  2. Individual Therapy: One-on-one sessions with a trained therapist provide personalized support, guidance, and feedback. The therapist helps individuals apply the skills learned in skills training to their daily lives.
  3. Phone Coaching: Outside of therapy sessions, individuals have access to phone coaching for crisis management and to reinforce the use of healthy coping strategies.
  4. Consultation Team: Therapists who provide DBT typically participate in a consultation team to receive supervision and support, which helps ensure the delivery of high-quality treatment.

Effectiveness of DBT

DBT has demonstrated effectiveness in treating various mental health conditions, including BPD, depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and suicidal ideation. Research studies have shown that individuals who undergo DBT experience significant improvements in their symptoms, overall well-being, and quality of life.

The comprehensive and targeted approach of DBT, with its focus on emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness, has made it a valuable therapy program for individuals seeking lasting improvements in their mental health. By addressing the unique challenges faced by individuals with BPD and other conditions, DBT offers hope and the tools necessary to navigate life's difficulties with resilience and greater emotional stability.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a widely recognized therapy program that combines cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies to foster psychological flexibility. It is utilized in the treatment of various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. ACT helps individuals accept what is beyond their control and commit to actions aligned with their personal values [7].

Overview of ACT

ACT aims to help individuals develop psychological flexibility, which involves accepting their thoughts and feelings rather than trying to eliminate or suppress them. This therapy program emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment and taking actions that align with personal values, even in the presence of uncomfortable emotions.

Principles of ACT

ACT is based on six core principles:

  1. Acceptance: ACT encourages individuals to accept their thoughts and emotions without judgment or avoidance. This acceptance allows them to create space for these experiences and develop a compassionate relationship with themselves.
  2. Cognitive Defusion: This principle involves learning to observe thoughts without getting entangled in them. By defusing from unhelpful thoughts, individuals can reduce their impact on their behavior and well-being.
  3. Being Present: ACT emphasizes the importance of being fully aware and engaged in the present moment. Mindfulness techniques are used to help individuals focus on the here and now, rather than being caught up in worries about the past or future.
  4. Self-as-Context: This principle involves developing an understanding that individuals are more than their thoughts and emotions. It encourages them to identify with the observing self rather than getting caught up in the content of their minds.
  5. Values Clarification: ACT helps individuals identify and clarify their personal values, which serve as a compass for guiding their actions. Living in alignment with one's values can bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
  6. Committed Action: ACT emphasizes the importance of taking purposeful and meaningful action based on one's values. It encourages individuals to commit to behaviors that enrich their lives, even in the face of discomfort or challenges.

Benefits of ACT

ACT has been found to be effective in treating various mental health conditions. Some of the benefits of ACT include:

  • Increased psychological flexibility: ACT helps individuals develop the skills to navigate difficult thoughts and emotions, leading to increased psychological flexibility and resilience.
  • Improved quality of life: By accepting their inner experiences and aligning their actions with personal values, individuals can experience a greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives.
  • Reduced symptoms: ACT has shown effectiveness in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. It equips individuals with coping strategies to manage distressing thoughts and emotions.
  • Enhanced well-being: By cultivating mindfulness and embracing acceptance, individuals can experience improved overall well-being and a greater sense of self-compassion.

By incorporating the principles of acceptance and commitment, ACT offers a unique approach to therapy that can be beneficial for individuals seeking to make meaningful changes in their lives. It provides tools and strategies to navigate difficult emotions and empowers individuals to live in alignment with their values.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a common therapy program that delves into the influence of past experiences and unconscious emotions on current behavior. It aims to bring awareness to the underlying factors that contribute to emotional and relational difficulties. By exploring past experiences and relationships, individuals can gain insight into their present issues and make positive changes in their lives. Psychodynamic therapy is often used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health concerns.

Introduction to Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is rooted in the ideas of Sigmund Freud and his followers. It emphasizes the importance of the unconscious mind and how it shapes our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The therapy process involves self-reflection, exploration of past experiences, and the development of a therapeutic relationship between the therapist and client.

During sessions, individuals are encouraged to freely express their thoughts, emotions, and memories, even those that may seem unrelated or uncomfortable. By delving into these experiences, clients gain a deeper understanding of how past events have influenced their current struggles.

Key Concepts in Psychodynamic Therapy

Several key concepts underpin psychodynamic therapy:

  1. Unconscious Processes: Psychodynamic therapy recognizes that many of our thoughts and motivations are outside our conscious awareness. By uncovering these unconscious processes, individuals can gain insight into the underlying causes of their difficulties.
  2. Past Experiences: The therapy explores how early life experiences, including childhood relationships and traumas, shape our present thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. By examining these experiences, clients can better understand the patterns that may be contributing to their current challenges.
  3. Defense Mechanisms: Psychodynamic therapy also addresses defense mechanisms, which are unconscious strategies individuals use to protect themselves from anxiety or discomfort. By identifying and understanding these defense mechanisms, individuals can work towards healthier coping strategies.
  4. Therapist-Client Relationship: The therapeutic relationship is a crucial aspect of psychodynamic therapy. The therapist provides a safe and supportive environment for the client to explore their emotions and experiences. The relationship serves as a mirror for the client's interpersonal patterns and helps in developing insight and growth.

Effectiveness of Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy has been found to be effective for a range of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. Research suggests that psychodynamic therapy can lead to lasting improvements in symptoms and overall well-being.

A meta-analysis published in the American Psychological Association's journal found that psychodynamic therapy had significant long-term effects, with clients showing continued improvement even after therapy ended. The therapy's focus on exploring unconscious conflicts and gaining insight into past experiences contributes to its effectiveness in promoting personal growth and positive change.

Psychodynamic therapy provides individuals with a deeper understanding of themselves and the factors that contribute to their challenges. By working collaboratively with a skilled therapist, clients can gain insight, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and make meaningful changes in their lives.

Family Systems Therapy

Family Systems Therapy is a common therapy program that views individuals within the context of their family and focuses on improving family dynamics and communication patterns to bring about positive change. This approach recognizes that families operate as interconnected systems, where the actions and behaviors of one family member can impact the entire family unit.

Understanding Family Systems Therapy

Family Systems Therapy provides an emotionally safe environment for addressing issues that may affect the functioning, cohesiveness, and health of the family unit. By evaluating family members within the family system based on their position or role, rather than attributing problems to a single member, this therapy approach aims to identify, address, and shift the way the entire family system functions to address issues collaboratively [8].

Goals of Family Systems Therapy

The objectives of Family Systems Therapy are unique to each family and may evolve over time. However, there are five common goals that this therapy program aims to achieve:

  1. Promoting understanding and collaboration among family members: Family therapy works towards fostering open and effective communication, improving empathy, and strengthening relationships within the family unit [8].
  2. Addressing stress, anger, grief, and conflict within the family: Family Systems Therapy provides a platform to explore and resolve conflicts, manage emotions, and work through challenging situations that may be causing distress or tension among family members.
  3. Creating a healthier family dynamic: By identifying and correcting dysfunctional family patterns, Family Systems Therapy seeks to disintegrate unhealthy family dynamics and promote healthier ways of interacting and relating to one another [8].
  4. Strengthening relationships: This therapy program aims to improve the quality of relationships within the family, enhancing trust, support, and intimacy among family members.
  5. Enhancing overall family functioning: Family Systems Therapy seeks to improve the overall functioning of the family unit, helping it adapt to challenges, changes, and transitions more effectively.

Benefits of Family Systems Therapy

Family therapy offers numerous benefits for individuals and families facing addiction and other challenges. Some of the key advantages of Family Systems Therapy include:

  • Improved communication: This therapy program helps family members develop effective communication skills, facilitating open dialogues and resolving conflicts in a healthy and constructive manner.
  • Increased family cohesiveness: By working together to address issues and build stronger relationships, families can experience a greater sense of togetherness, unity, and support.
  • Enhanced problem-solving abilities: Family Systems Therapy equips families with problem-solving techniques and strategies, enabling them to navigate challenges and make decisions collaboratively.
  • Strengthened support system: Through Family Systems Therapy, families learn to support and encourage one another, creating a network of emotional and practical support that can aid in recovery from addiction.
  • Improved overall mental health: Stable and supportive family relationships can positively impact mental health, assisting individuals in coping with stress, adopting healthier behaviors, and boosting self-esteem.

By engaging in Family Systems Therapy, individuals and families can work together to overcome addiction, foster healthier family dynamics, and build a strong support system that promotes long-term recovery and well-being.


[1]: https://engagetherapy.com/the-most-common-types-of-counseling/

[2]: https://docs.github.com/en/get-started/writing-on-github/working-with-advanced-formatting/creating-and-highlighting-code-blocks

[3]: https://www.healthline.com/health/types-of-therapy

[4]: https://quizlet.com/659758963/chapter-objectives-1-5-flash-cards/

[5]: https://engagetherapy.com/the-most-common-types-of-counseling

[6]: https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/approaches

[7]: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-epic-mental-health-programs-you-should-know-hie-hq?trk=public_post

[8]: https://engagetherapy.com/what-are-the-five-goals-of-family-therapy/

Reach Out to Clear Steps Recovery Today

It is important to note that many other types of therapy programs are available for addiction treatment. Different approaches can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual facing addiction problems. It is essential for clients and their loved ones to work closely with practitioners to find the best approach for their specific situation.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder and seeking therapy in New Hampshire, look no further than Clear Steps Recovery in Londonderry. Our experienced, compassionate staff is ready to help you get started on the road to recovery. Call 603.769.8981 or contact us online today!

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