What are the different types of psychotherapy?

There is a confusing number of different approaches to psychological treatment which may help people with NEAD, it is not possible to describe them all. Some therapists will only use one approach. Others may use a mixture of different psychological treatments to meet the needs of their patients. This page explains the commonest forms of psychological treatment.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT is more focused towards the ‘here and now’ of situations and aims to identify thoughts and actions which make a person's problems worse or fail to resolve them. The therapist then works with the patient to use ways of thinking and of addressing difficulties which deal with problems more effectively.

CBT involves elements such as monitoring yourself (for instance by completing diaries). CBT techniques are often suggested in self-help manuals, but are also used in individual or group settings.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic approaches explore how events that have happened in early life may have affected the way they people feel about themselves, relate to others and deal with emotions. Often these things are deeply buried and people do not realise how they have been affected until they start to think about it in therapy.

Gaining a better understanding can help people to make sense of what might be causing their NEAs, and to develop strategies for making helpful changes in their lives.

Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

Looks at the connections between symptoms and current interpersonal problems (such as problems in relationships with partners or family members). Therapy focuses on current social relationships and how expectations within these relationships may be causing a patient’s symptoms.

Treatment involves resolving relationship problems or finding new relationships or activities as compensation.


This is a treatment which helps people to achieve a calm mental state by focusing their awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting their own feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It may be used on its own or as part of other therapies, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT does not try to eliminate difficult feelings but to learn to focus on the present moment and to tolerate what life brings. Acceptance and commitment therapy invites people to open up to unpleasant feelings, learn not to overreact to them, and not to avoid situations where such feelings are triggered.

The aim of ACT is to allow patients to move on to a state in which they can live up to their values and find meaning.

Cognitive analytical therapy (CAT)

Therapy aims to help the patient recognise patterns of unhelpful actions and recognise their origin. Attention is given to the link between patterns of behaviour in childhood and current thoughts and behaviours. Treatment involves learning new and better strategies to cope with ongoing difficulties.

Family therapy

A family therapist works with several members of the family or couples at the same time. Therapy focuses on relationships within the family and looks at how the family solves problems (or how ineffective ways of solving problems may make them worse).

Find out more about who can help

Woman smiling

Psychological treatments have developed in a similar way as antibiotics or surgical treatments since Sigmund Freud first used this treatment on patients sitting on this couch over 100 years ago.