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The Essentials of Psychotherapy

As most consumers of mental health services know, the number of schools of therapy constantly increase; today we have a dizzying number of unique schools of therapy:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (by far the most common)
  • Behavioral therapy (Part B of CBT)
  • Cognitive therapy (Part A of CBT)
  • Family or Family Systems therapy
  • Client-Centered (or Person-Centered) therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Narrative therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Rational-Emotive therapy (not very common these days)
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Existential-Humanistic therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Eclectic therapy (an organized mish-mosh of all of the above)

This isn’t even an exhaustive list of reputable therapies, which must appear as something of an overwhelming buffet to the general public. There are also as many types or styles of psychotherapy as there are psychotherapists.

However, a case can be made for some unifying traits of the therapist. Certainly, not all schools of psychotherapy rely on the same personality traits. Some require more erudition than others. Most require some skill with listening, but some require very little transparency or even empathy.

What are the essential traits of helpful psychotherapy and of the helpful psychotherapist? Here is a list of potential traits. In the next blog, I will discuss what I believe are the top five traits that are necessary for successful therapy.

  • Love (compassion)
  • Empathy
  • Hope
  • Trust
  • Knowledge
  • Wisdom
  • Confidence
  • Transparency
  • Intelligence
  • Intuition
  • Perceptiveness
  • Listening
  • Clarity