Overview of Psychological Therapies

Psychologists use a number of different psychological therapies or ‘theoretical frameworks’ to assess and treat various mental health problems. In order to use particular therapies, psychologists would often attend specialist training to become proficient and competent in their use. A psychologist can be trained to use one or several types of therapies. Research is conducted into various psychological disorders and protocols or ‘best-practice’ principles are developed to guide psychologists to use the right type of therapy for particular disorders. It is important that psychologists remain current with this literature and use the appropriate therapy. It is possible that there is evidence-base for more than one therapy for a particular disorder therefore psychologists will also use their experience or ‘clinical judgment’ to decide which form or forms of therapies are best for a particular individual. It is important to note that whilst there are recommended therapies for particular disorders, each person is individual and unique in their experiences and their clinical presentation therefore psychologists need to conduct thorough assessments before identifying a treatment plan. All psychologists at the Emerald Psychology Practice are suitably qualified and experienced to use a number of different psychological therapies to provide the best possible outcome for clients. Where required, psychologists have undergone specialist training to deliver particular therapies and they may use more than one type of therapy for treating clients, if necessary. This adds to the quality of assessment and treatment provided at clients and ensures the best possible outcomes.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT for short, is an evidence-based therapy for a number of different psychological disorders. CBT can help with problems such as depression, anxiety, panic, stress and relationship issues. The theory behind CBT suggests that difficulties are created by the interaction between our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and how we behave. In CBT treatment, psychologists look at how our thoughts relate to feelings and how these in turn relate to our behaviour. By creating change in how we think and feel, we can change how we behave and therefore, reduce emotional problems. People who undergo CBT are likely to have a deeper understanding of their thought processes and how these effect their feelings (mood) and behaviour.


Psychotherapy is defined as a ‘talk’ based therapy designed to help people explore and better understand their problems. Psychotherapy can help with problems such as relationship issues, bereavement, depression, anxiety and stress. Psychotherapy often involves talking about your experiences on a deeper level including your early childhood experiences. Typically, psychotherapy is longer-term work and can give people a much deeper and richer insight into how their early experiences effects them today.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT for short, is considered as the ‘third wave’ of cognitive beavioural therapies. This means that ACT also looks at thoughts, feelings and behaviour but the principles of this therapy are slightly different. ACT assumes that pain and suffering are a normal part of everyday life and despite every effort in trying to avoid or control them, pain and suffering is inevitable. ACT also states that the avoidance and attempts to control or struggle with difficult thoughts, feelings and sensations eventually leads to more pain and suffering therefore, the theory suggests that learning how to give up the struggle can lead to a richer, fuller life. In ACT people are taught to notice thoughts and feelings and rather than struggle with our experiences, people are taught acceptance. The goals of ACT are to, A – accept, C – choose a valued direction and T – take action in line with values. The aim is not to change or ‘get rid’ of experiences but more to cultivate an intimate awareness of our experiences through gentle observation and ‘mindfulness’ and chose pathway that fits with what is important to us. ACT can used for a number of psychological problems including panic, anxiety, depression and trauma. More recently, ACT can also be used in couples therapy and anger management problems.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy or DBT was developed to treat people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is considered an evidence-based therapy for BPD according to National Guidelines. People with BPD have a range of difficulties characterized by problems in understanding and experiencing emotions. Emotions are either felt too strongly, change frequently or are not felt at all. They also have lots of difficulties in their relationships and may use unhelpful ways of dealing with problems, such as hurting themselves. DBT is based on a Cognitive Behavioural technique but also includes other components that come from Buddhist practices. There are four main skills that DBT teaches; Core Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation and Distress Tolerance.

Mentalization-based treatment (MBT)

Mentalization-based treatment or MBT is a form of ‘psychodynamic psychotherapy’ used in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. The theory behind MBT is that problems in our early attachments with parents or caregivers limits a persons ability to ‘mentalise’ self and other. This means that they have difficulty understanding their own mind and the mind of others. A limited capacity to mentalise can create problems with emotions and in relationships therefore some of the goals of MBT are to increase a persons capacity to manage mood and behaviour in order to have better and more intimate relationships and achieve life goals. MBT is a ‘talk’ based therapy that focuses on the present time and builds understating of how past experiences effect us today. Trained therapists use their relationship with the client to help clients better understand themselves and others.