Guide to types
of therapy

Types of Therapy

Disclaimer: this is designed to be informational for those considering therapy in their healing journey. Childhelp does not specifically endorse any type of therapy; please use your discretion to determine what fits best with your needs.


Trauma is the result of one event, a series of events, or circumstances that cause harmful and lasting effects on a person’s well-being. The experience of abuse can create feelings of fear and possibly, feelings of one’s life being in danger. Because people’s trauma histories are diverse, the effects of the trauma can be perceived differently depending on the individual’s experience.

Around 70% of adults in the United States have experienced at least one trauma in their lives.

Trauma therapy helps individuals process traumatizing events and the experiences that may follow.

Puzzle Pieces


There are various types of trauma therapies available to assist with processing trauma. Everyone’s trauma is unique and valid to them. In the same way, finding the right “type” of therapy differs from individual to individual.

Benefits of trauma therapy:
– Can improve quality of life
– Learning healthy coping skills that can be used in various settings
– Be able to process the traumatic experience(s) into a balanced understanding
– Improve connection with others
– Reduce symptoms of anger, sadness, shame, and/or guilt
– Offer validation

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on feelings, emotions, and behaviors. CBT helps people understand how their feelings, emotions, and behaviors interact with each other. CBT can also help with understanding one’s trauma and how to reframe their negative thoughts into more balanced thoughts. CBT usually takes 12 to 16 weeks and is highly recommended for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health diagnosis that can develop in some people after a traumatic event.

Dialectal Behavior

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. The focus of DBT is to teach clients to practice mindfulness, develop healthy coping skills, improve interpersonal relationships, and regulate their emotions. DBT can be utilized within individual or group counseling. DBT assists with the development of stress management and mindfulness by learning how to “live in the present.” Benefits of DBT can include learning to identify negative thought patterns, connecting thoughts with behaviors, developing a strength-based perspective, and making positive behavioral changes. DBT incorporates individual and group therapy sessions and typically runs from 6-12 months.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that focuses on trauma process and release through eye movements. In a session, the therapist prompts the patient about a specific aspect of a traumatic event, while using left-right movement (rhythmic tapping or some other type of physiological prompt). The physiological prompting through rhythmic tapping or other methods assists the brain in “reprocessing” the memory by engaging both sides of the brain (this is called bilateral stimulation). The thought is that during the traumatic event, the brain did not process the event due to the amount of stress endured during the traumatic event. During the tapping (physiological prompting), the reprocessing releases memories allowing for processing. EMDR requires less talking as the method is focused on bilateral stimulation.  EMDR usually takes 6-12 sessions and is recommended for treatment of PTSD.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy is a type of talk therapy that prompts individuals to retell their experience using their point of view. This type of therapy allows individuals to bring awareness to their experiences and how they see their role in the experience. This technique can help individuals address the feeling of being “broken” or shame. This therapy empowers individuals to rewrite their experience until they are not emotionally affected by the trauma.

– Sample question during narrative therapy: what story have you told yourself about you as an artist?  What events or situations have contributed to that story?

– Narrative therapy is led by the person who experienced the trauma.

– Having a narrative can help us organize and maintain our reality.

Art Therapy

Art Therapy is an expressive type of therapy where an individual can express their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors through various media. The different forms include dance, drama, music, voice work, writing, and creative art. This method can promote healing by optimizing artistic expression as a coping skill. It can be beneficial for those who prefer to express themselves via art rather than verbally.

Group Counseling

Group Counseling is a type of talk therapy that includes either a therapist or peer support specialist and is comprised of two or more participants. There are different types of group therapies that range from psychoeducational to skill development to support groups. Although group counseling may differ by approach, the goal of group counseling is to help clients build strong connections, develop coping skills, and receive support.  Group counseling can be beneficial in developing different perspectives, building interpersonal skills, and in not feeling alone within a safe space.  Groups vary in the number of sessions depending upon the type (psychoeducational, skills, etc.).

Family Counseling

Family Counseling is a type of talk therapy that can include family or individuals that have been identified as important to your recovery like your partner. Family counseling is offered in different modalities; however, it is aimed at improving communication and conflict resolutions among family members. Family counseling often examines the family as a whole and tries to understand each member’s respective role. It is important to note that with family counseling, only family members who are willing to participate would be included.

Benefits of family counseling:

– Improve the bond within family members

– Address specific topics such as the impact of child abuse or conflict between members

– Increase support of a family member experiencing a mental health issue

– Improve home environments

Family counseling sessions usually take around 50 minutes to 1 hour and last about 12 sessions. Frequency of family sessions are determined by the therapist and family.

Additional resources to help you on your journey towards healing.

Disclaimer: The resources listed here are not affiliated with or specifically endorsed by Childhelp but are meant to be an example of the various options available publicly; please use your discretion to determine the resources that best meet your needs.






This project is supported by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the United States (U.S.) Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $6 million with 100 percent funded by ACF/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACF/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit the ACF website, Administrative and National Policy Requirements.