OCS quick links

OCS quick links

Methods, Models and Approaches to Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counselling and Psychotherapy form an important part of Psychological Therapies, they fall into three main categories.

Behavioural, Humanistic, Psychoanalytical and Psychodynamic Therapies

1. Behavioural Therapies focus on cognitions and behaviours. Behavioural Therapies are based on the way you think (cognitive) and/or the way you behave. These therapies recognise that it is possible to change or recondition our thoughts or behaviour to overcome specific problems.

2. Psychoanalytical and Psychodynamic Therapies focus on the unconscious relationship patterns that evolved from childhood. Psychoanalytical and Psychodynamic Therapies are based on an individual's unconscious thoughts and perceptions that have developed throughout their childhood, and how these affect their current behaviour and thoughts. Humanistic therapies - focusing on self-development in the 'here and now'.

3. Humanistic Therapies focus on self-development, growth and responsibilities. They seek to help individuals recognise their strengths, creativity and choice in the 'here and now'.

Many professional Counsellors and Psychotherapists also practice 'Integrative' therapy, where they blend specific types of techniques. Other practitioners use an 'Eclectic' approach, taking elements of several different models and combining them. Different approaches can be used in the Counselling and Psychotherapy process depending on the client's need. An assessment of the client's problem area should be made and the appropriate approach can be implemented.

Counselling and Psychotherapy Approaches


Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is a type of therapy that combines principles from several traditional forms of psychotherapy to reduce the effect of trauma and other psychological stressors. Using techniques such as rapid eye movement and image rescripting, this approach works to recondition stressful memories, changing how they are stored in the brain to improve overall mental health.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy that emphasises acceptance as a way to deal with negative thoughts, feelings, symptoms, or circumstances. It also encourages increased commitment to healthy, constructive activities that uphold your values or goals.

Adlerian Therapy originated by Alfred Adler, focuses on creating a therapeutic relationship that is cooperative, encouraging and practical. Adlerian counsellors help clients explore their unique ’lifestyle’ and ’private logic’ (their core beliefs about self, others and the world) to increase understanding of and challenge habitual patterns of behaviour and hidden goals. It is an educative process of dialogue, insight, encouragement, re-orientation and enablement towards useful involvement in and contribution to society.

Animal-Assisted Therapies are approaches to mental health care that incorporate animals into the psychotherapy process, emphasising the bond created during human-animal interactions. 

Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy which uses the creative process of making art to explore and communicate issues, feelings and emotions which may be too difficult or distressing to express in words. It can also be used to relieve stress, improve your mental wellbeing and increase self-awareness or cope. Visual art therapy can include drawing, painting, photography and modelling and is used with individuals and groups of all ages.

Attachment Therapy is based on attachment theory and explores how one’s childhood experiences might impact their ability to form meaningful bonds as adults. Though attachment therapy is often recommended for those who had negative childhood experiences, anyone struggling to foster deep connections with others might benefit therapy.


Behavioural Therapy is based on the belief that behaviour is learned in response to past experience and can be unlearned, or reconditioned, without analysing the past to find the reason for the behaviour.

Brainspotting is designed to help people access, process, and overcome trauma, negative emotions, and pain, including psychologically induced physical pain. With the aid of a pointer, trained brainspotting therapists slowly guide the eyes of the client across their field of vision to find appropriate “brainspots,” with a brainspot being an eye position that activates a traumatic memory or painful emotion. 

Brief Therapy uses the cognitive behavioural approach with a small, planned number of sessions and possibly a single follow-up session after some time has elapsed.


Coaching supports individuals, teams or groups in achieving greater self-awareness, improved self-management skills and increased self-efficacy, so that you can develop your own goals and solutions. 

Cognitive Analytical Therapy combines cognitive therapy and psychotherapy. It encourages clients to draw on their own resources to develop the skills to change destructive patterns of behaviour. Negative ways of thinking are explored and treatment is structured and directive involving diary-keeping, progress charts, etc.

Cognitive Therapy uses the power of the mind to influence behaviour. It is based on the theory that previous experiences can adversely affect self-perception so will condition attitude, emotions and ability to deal with certain situations. It works by helping the client to identify, question and change self-denigrating thoughts, thus altering habitual responses and behaviour. Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT) combines cognitive therapy and exploratory psychotherapy. It encourages clients to draw on their own resources to develop the skills to change destructive patterns of behaviour. Negative ways of thinking are explored and treatment is structured and directive.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) combines cognitive and behavioural techniques. Clients are taught ways to change thoughts and expectations and relaxation techniques may be used.

Creative Therapy includes a wide range of techniques which can help you find a way of expressing yourself beyond words or traditional talking therapies. It can include visual arts therapy, writing, sand play, dance movement therapy, drama therapy and music therapy.

Culturally Sensitive Therapy emphasises the therapist's understanding of a client’s background, ethnicity, and belief system. Therapists can incorporate cultural sensitivity into their work to accommodate and respect differences in opinions, values, and attitudes of various cultures and different types of people. Cultural sensitivity also allows a therapist to gain and maintain cultural competence, which is the ability to first recognise and understand one’s own culture and how it influences one's relationship with a client. The need for this understanding may be based on characteristics such as age, beliefs, ethnicity, race, gender, religion, ability, disability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.


Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) is the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance to support intellectual, emotional, and motor functions of the body.  As a modality of the creative arts therapies, DMT looks at the correlation between movement and emotion.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is based on cognitive behavioural therapy. It's specially adapted for people who feel emotions very intensely such as clients who self harm, who are suicidal and for eating disorders, substance misuse and bipolar disorder. Dialectical means trying to understand how two things that seem opposite could both be true, for e.g.accepting yourself and changing your behaviour may feel contradictory. DBT aims to help you understand and accept your feelings, learn skills to manage them and become able to make positive changes.

Drama Therapy is a treatment approach that provides a theatrical platform for people in therapy to express their feelings, solve problems, and achieve therapeutic goals.


Eclectic Counselling involves selecting what is applicable to the client from a range of theories, methods and practices. Justification is based on the theory that there is no proof that any one theoretical approach works better than all others for a specific problem.

Ego State Therapy is based on the idea that a person's psyche is the amalgamation of several distinct people or egos, such as the wounded child or controlling personality. It developed from psychodynamic psychotherapy, and uses techniques similar to those used in family and group settings.

Emotionally Focused Therapy is an approach for working with couples, families and individuals that helps to create and reinforce secure, resilient relationships. Therapists will help you understand your own and others' emotions, address any insecurities and conflicts, and learn to interact in a more responsive and emotionally-connected way.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a treatment method that offers healing from physical and emotional pain and disease. Without the use of needles, this form of acupuncture uses the fingertips to stimulate energy points on the body. 

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, also called equestrian therapy or horse therapy, is a type of experiential mental health treatment that involves a person in therapy interacting with horses. Designed for people of all ages, equine therapy has been shown to treat a wide range of mental health issues, addressing both physical and psychological concerns associated with a diagnosis.

Exposure Therapy is a type of behavioural therapy designed to help people manage problematic fears. Through the use of various systematic techniques, a person is gradually exposed to the situation that causes them distress. The goal of exposure therapy is to create a safe environment in which a person can reduce anxiety, decrease avoidance of dreaded situations, and improve one's quality of life.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) involves stimulation of either lobe of the brain by using eye movements which it is believed replicates what appears to happen in REM sleep, allowing natural processing of traumatic events or disturbing memories to take place. It is particularly useful for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Existential Counselling is based on the belief that life has no essential (given) meaning: any meaning has to be found or created. Existential Counselling involves making sense of life through a personal worldview and includes a willingness to face one’s life and life problems.


Family Therapy looks at a family system, and the relationships between people, rather than the individuals. It allows family members to express and explore difficult thoughts and emotions safely, helping them understand each other’s experiences and views, appreciate each other’s needs and build on their strengths. It can help with many issues that affect the family unit, helping people make useful changes in their relationships and their lives.


Gestalt Therapy is derived from the German for "organised whole". It is based on the belief that the human response to experiences is summed up in a person's thoughts, feelings and actions. The client gains self-awareness by analysing behaviour and body language and giving expression to repressed feelings. Treatment often includes acting out scenarios and dream recall.


Human Givens Therapy encompasses all effective approaches to helping people and whatever has accrued because of ideology. It is truly holistic, scientific and practical.

Humanistic Psychotherapy embraces techniques coming from the "personal growth movement" and encourages people to explore their feelings and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions. Emphasis is on self-development and achieving the highest potential rather than dysfunctional behaviour. "Client-centred" or "non-directive" approach is often used and the therapy can be described as "holistic". The client’s creative instincts may be used to explore and resolve personal issues.


Integrative Counselling is when several distinct models of Counselling and Psychotherapy are used together in a converging way, rather than separately. Many counsellors use one core theoretical model of counselling but draw on techniques and styles from other approaches when appropriate.

Interpersonal Therapy is a structured, time-limited approach focused on relationships. It can be useful for clients with depression and mood disorders, particularly around bereavement, conflict and life changes. The interpersonal therapist will help you identify any patterns or problems in your relationships with other people so you can work out strategies for coping with these.


Jungian Therapy, also called analytical psychology, is a psychoanalytic approach developed by Carl Jung. It aims to bring the conscious and unconscious into balance to help individuals become more balanced and whole. It looks at both the personal unconscious and the collective human unconscious, and can involve dream analysis, word associations and creative activities.


Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) applies the medicine ketamine within a 2 hour psychotherapy session. This combination may accelerate the process of growth and change. Sessions last longer than traditional therapy, and are conducted with medical support and psychological counselling to ensure you are well cared for throughout your experience.


Lifespan Integration (LI), a gentle, body-based method of therapy, uses memory recall and imagery to help people in treatment access their inner child in order to resolve repressed trauma and promote healing. Mental health practitioners may offer LI therapy to help individuals overcome past trauma and address other mental and emotional health concerns.


Music Therapy is a therapeutic approach that uses the naturally mood-lifting properties of music to help people improve their mental health and overall well-being. It’s a goal-oriented intervention that may involve writing songs, singing, dancing, listening to music, making music and discussing music


Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is described as ’the Psychology of excellence’ and sees a world of excellence where people can be facilitated in creating their own choice and flexibility. Presuppositions are used as the basic operating principles, some examples being ’Human behaviour is purposeful’, ’we either already have all the resources we need or we can create them’, ’Modelling successful performance leads to excellence. If one person can do it, it is possible to model it and teach it to others. In NLP, modelling means finding out how someone does something. The core of NLP is the process of replicating excellence with a goal of ’excellence for all’.


Online Counselling is a therapy which is conducted via the internet. Sessions take place via instant messenger, video and email.


Person-Centred Counselling is based on the assumption that an individual (client), seeking help in the resolution of a problem, can enter into a relationship with another individual (counsellor) who is sufficiently accepting and permissive to allow the client to freely express emotions. This will enable the client to come to terms with negative feelings which may have caused emotional problems, and develop inner resources.

Phenomenological Therapy looks at an individual's perception and experience of a situation or event rather than its external reality. A therapist can help to understand why you see things in this way and discover more helpful ways of thinking and behaving.

Play Therapy is primarily used with children. Play is used as a communication tool to help them to express their feelings and deal with emotional problems. It can be used to diagnose the reasons for difficult behaviour, to allow children to work through their anxieties or as a relearning and desensitisation therapy.

Primal Therapy is based on the theory that suppressed birth or infancy traumas can resurface as neuroses. The therapy takes the client back to the "primal scene" where trauma can be re-experienced as an emotional cleansing.

Psychoanalysis focuses on the work of Sigmund Freud, who believed that the unacceptable thoughts of early childhood are banished to the unconscious mind but continue to influence thoughts, emotions and behaviour. "Repressed" feelings can surface later as conflicts, depression, etc or through dreams or creative activities. The analyst seeks to interpret and make acceptable to the client’s conscious mind, troublesome feelings and relationships from the past. "Transference" onto the analyst, of feelings about figures in the client’s life, is encouraged. This type of therapy is often used by clients suffering from high levels of distress and can be a lengthy and intensive process.

Psychodynamic Counselling or Psychotherapy stresses the importance of the unconscious and past experience in determining current behaviour. The client is encouraged to talk about childhood relationships with parents and other significant people, the therapist focuses on the client/therapist relationship (the dynamics). The psychodynamic approach is derived from psychoanalysis but usually provides a quicker solution to emotional problems.

Psychosynthesis & Transpersonal is sometimes described as "psychology of the soul" and aims to integrate or synthesise the level of consciousness at which thoughts and emotions are experienced with a higher, spiritual level of consciousness. Painting, movement and other techniques can be used to recognise and value different facets of the personality. It can be useful for people seeking a more spiritually oriented vision of themselves.



Re-birthing is based on the theory that emotional or physical traumas during birth create feelings of separation or fear in later life. Breathing techniques are used to release tension whilst the client re-experiences traumatic emotions.

Regression Therapy focuses on resolving significant past events believed to be interfering with a person's present mental and emotional wellness. Those seeking treatment for phobias, depression, intimacy issues, and a range of other concerns can see improvement in their state of mind by revisiting and reliving the early experiences that influenced the development of these issues.

Relationship Therapy encourages the parties in a relationship to recognise repeating patterns of distress and to understand, and manage troublesome differences that they are experiencing. The relationship involved may be between members of a family, a couple, or even work colleagues.


Schema Therapy can help individuals identify the thought and behaviour patterns underlying and perpetuating mental health conditions. The treatment approach integrates elements from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, attachment theory, and a number of other approaches, expanding on CBT through exploration of emotions, maladaptive coping methods, and the origin of mental health concerns.

Sex Therapy or Psychosexual Therapy, is a talking therapy aimed at helping couples and individuals talk about their lives, their sexual issues and preferences in order to resolve specific sexual problems.  Some people refer to this as sex therapy.

Solution-focused Brief Therapy promotes positive change rather than dwelling on past problems. Clients are encouraged to focus positively on what they do well and to set goals and work out how to achieve them. As little as 3 or 4 sessions may be beneficial.

Somatic Counselling also known as Somatic Experiencing Therapy, helps treat post-traumatic stress and effects from other mental health conditions. Somatic Counselling connects a person’s mind and body to apply psychotherapy and physical therapies during treatment. Mind-body exercises to release pent-up trauma from the mind and the body. By releasing these bodily sensations, a therapist works towards healing trauma from the inside out with this form of trauma therapy. 

Strengths-based Therapy is a theoretical orientation and approach to psychotherapy treatment based in positive psychology. A strengths-based therapist focuses on the client’s existing resources, resilience, and positive qualities in an effort to use these abilities to improve quality of life and reduce problematic symptoms.

Systemic Therapies are therapies that have, as their aim, a change in the transactional pattern of members. It can be used as the generic term for family therapy and marital therapy.


Telephone Counselling is a form of distance therapy. Counselling sessions are conducted via landline and mobile phone. 

Transactional Analysis (TA) is based on the belief that everyone has a child, adult and parent self within them and within each social interaction, one self-predominates. By recognising these roles, a client can choose which one to adopt and so change behaviour. This form of therapy has produced the term "inner child" used to describe unfulfilled needs from childhood.

Transpersonal Therapy describes any form of Counselling or Psychotherapy which places emphasis on spirituality, human potential or heightened consciousness. It includes psychosynthesis.

Trauma Focused Therapies refer to a range of psychological models of treatment to help those who are experiencing trauma symptoms in response to a traumatic event.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy designed to help children, adolescents, adults, and families who are dealing with the detrimental effects of trauma. Originally, TF-CBT was created to help children and adolescents who had experienced sexual abuse. TF-CBT has become an evidence-based method effective for anyone who has experienced individual trauma or multiple traumatic events. It is often used for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which may result from the grief and loss of a loved one or sexual, physical, or mental abuse in the home or workplace. Some of the symptoms of PTSD that can be treated with TF-CBT include depression, anxiety, and grief.



Voice Therapy is a cognitive and behavioural therapy that brings internalised negative thought processes to the surface with accompanying emotions, allowing clients to confront alien components of the personality. Therapist and client collaborate on corrective suggestions to challenge self-destructive behaviours


Wilderness Therapy, also referred to as outdoor behavioural healthcare, is a treatment modality that uses expeditions into the wilderness or other unfamiliar surroundings as a means of addressing behavioural and mental health issues. 



Yoga Therapy uses yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and guided imagery to improve mental and physical health. The holistic focus of yoga therapy encourages the integration of mind, body, and spirit. Modern yoga therapy covers a broad range of therapeutic modalities, incorporating elements from both physical therapy and psychotherapy.