Dear Beth

Which type of psychotherapy?

a meadow fit for meditation and personal growth


Hi there. ...I am considering seeing someone to help me sort out some problems. To be honest, I'm not even sure what the problems are. It just seems like there's an awful lot going on right now, not going well in life, and I suspect I'm not handling it well, and may be even contributing to the problems. One thing I've learned in the past year (through a former partner, who was a psychotherapist) is that there are different kinds of therapies (like CBT [cognitive-behavioral therapy], or analytical, etc.). I don't think most people appreciate this; the tendency is to view psychotherapy like physical medicine. When your arm is broken, you don't think about what therapy the doctor will use. You assume they all do the same thing--set the fracture. You don't shop around, and check out alternatives.

On your site, you answered a question for someone as follows:

As to whether another type of psychotherapy would be more cost-effective, that depends on what your objectives are and what method or methods will work for you to reach them. If the therapist you are planning to see is familiar only with analytically-oriented therapy, you may wish to first have an assessment with a therapist who is familiar with all the main types and their uses.

My question is: How do I find that therapist to whom I can go and have that initial assessment (the therapist familiar with the main therapies and their uses, etc.)?

Beth answers: I think your best bet would be a member of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration, an international organization of academics and clinicians dedicated to transcending the traditional divisions between different kinds of psychotherapy. I am myself a SEPI member and do assessments of the kind you want. If you live far from Toronto and cannot find a SEPI member close enough, find a good, experienced psychotherapist and ask if he or she is familiar with the main psychotherapeutic methods--analytical, non-analytical or short term psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, NLP / hypnotherapy, and systems / family systems. I do assessments by phone for people who are unable to get to the office of a suitably trained and experienced therapist.