Types of psychotherapy

Supportive psychotherapy involves discussion of problems at a simple, practical level, which may include offering advice. Any good doctor-patient relationship includes an element of supportive psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can be usefully combined with antidepressants or other psychotropic drugs for patients with formal psychiatric illness. Many psychotherapists prefer to speak of 'clients' rather than 'patients'; however, the term 'patient' is retained here for the sake of consistency with the rest of the book.

A wide variety of talking treatments is in use in the UK. Outside health services, many patients consult counsellors and other types of therapists. Many patients pay alternative or complementary practitioners, but, clearly, this is beyond the scope of the present book. I will concentrate below on the three main types of talking treatment provided in UK health services: counselling, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), and dynamic psychotherapy.

Many other named techniques exist, such as cognitive-analytical therapy (Ryle), interpersonal therapy (Klerman), client-centred therapy (Rogers), Gestalt therapy (Perl), psychodrama (Moreno), and transactional analysis (Berne), although some are largely practised in the private sector rather than through the NHS. Current opinion emphasizes the similarities between different schools of psychotherapy, rather than their differences.

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