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Re: How many types of psychotherapy are there?

Posted by alexandra_k on December 9, 2017, at 16:17:13

In reply to How many types of psychotherapy are there?, posted by SLS on December 7, 2017, at 15:49:28

I think your question is a bit like asking how many species are there? It is hard because of the hierarchy thing... The boundaries between orders and families and so on is blurry... All the way down to identifying paradigmatic members (exemplars, if you will) of the category...

I'll try and explain what I mean...


There are a number of different theorists who were more or less charasmatic personalities and prolific with their writings. Their influence has inspired a number of acolytes both within their lifetimes, and into today.

So, for example, Freud, Jung, Klein. Skinner. Timothy Leary, Marsha Linehan.

You can trace lineages (if you cared to) with respect to who was a student of who... Who was influenced by who, who read who, who disagreed with who where and when about what and why.

Modern day accreditation requirements fix a curriculum for students with respect ot what theorists they read and what techniques they are taught to practice. And professional practice guidelines set boundaries / limits and perhaps offer more or less guidance on acceptable practice, too.

There are a number of different accreditations that allow people to practice as psychotherapists. For example, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, behavioral psychologists, counsellers, some people in education (I think), social work...

So in one sense, the answer to your question might amount to an answer to: How many different lisencing bodies are there?

But then within each system of accrediditation there are different curriculum options. Different universities (or other institutions) will offer different options depending on who they have to teach and the lineage of the teacher... So, for example, 'psychodynamically oriented psychotherapy' can be broken down into 'object relations theorists' or 'attachment theorists' or down to particular figureheads e.g., 'Kleinian' or 'Jungian' and so on.

Clinical Psychology programs might have more or less Behaviourists (teaching Skinner, Watson etc) or Cognitivists (Beck etc). More or less of a focus on activity scheduling and reinforcement patterns or cognitive restructuring and self affirmations. Marsha Linehan (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) was herself trained as a Cognitive Behavior Therapist (which involves kludging together cognitivism and behaviorism) with teachniques from Bhuddist Practice (mindfulness meditation and acceptance strategies)...

So... All these relations... Individual people. Then the people they taught... How much the people they taught retain original teachings (apparently there are still some more or less purist Freudians??) vs develop the orientation (modern day Freudians - psychoanalysts) vs develop it in a way that involves chiasm with a group of people claiming to be more pure... so you get other varieties of psychoanalysis that - "sniff" - do not even deserve to be called *psychoanalysis* - they are merely *psychoanalytically oriented (more or less) therapies*.

Lots of controversy over the name... The name we should give... To that bunch of practitioners operating out of... California... Or, wherever... This or that university... This or that part of the world...


I think the most useful way of approaching things is to look at the accreditation. If someone has a certificate prnouncing they are a qualified Jungian Analyst then they learned about whatever it was that they learned about during their Jungian Analysis training program.

There isn't much of anything to stop them going off for a weekend workshop to learn Basic Principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and displaying that certificate / that accrediation / that theoretical orientation too... Unlikely... But possible...


I think most therapists (with professional freedom) will do whatever seems to work... But what strategies they think to try and limited by the experience they have / what they have learned. People might be drawn to certain orientations for whatever reasons... Because it makes better sense of the presenting problems of their client base, or because it offers workable(ish) solutions given time constraints, or whatever... But most clinicians do the hodge-podge thing. A little of this, a little of that, and never mind contradictory theory...

Most clincians aren't particularly theoretically minded.




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