ILYSE DOBROW DIMARCO, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

How does CBT compare to other treatment options?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be contrasted with several other different schools of psychotherapy:

Psychodynamic psychotherapy

  • In this form of therapy, a major goal is to gain insight into the unconscious processes that drive problematic behavior.
  • Emphasis is placed on exploring the origins of one’s problems and understanding past relationships.
  • Sessions are not highly structured (i.e. with a set agenda), as in CBT.
  • Homework is not considered to be a crucial element of therapy.
  • A person’s relationship with his/her therapist is viewed as a template for understanding relationships in the person’s outside life.
  • Therapists are less active and directive than in CBT, where therapists act as “coaches”

Psychoanalysis

  • Pioneered by Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis is one form of psychodynamic psychotherapy.
  • In classical psychoanalysis, an individual typically attends therapy four times/week.
  • Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is often the type of therapy portrayed in movies or on TV, where a person is asked to sit on a couch and “free associate;” that is, say whatever comes to mind, without censorship.
  • Psychoanalytic psychotherapists help people analyze their free associations to discover clues to their unconscious thoughts and desires.

Gestalt therapy

  • In this form of therapy, a person is asked to focus on the present (the “here and now”) and how his/her emotions and behaviors affect his/her present moment experience.
  • Gestalt theory stresses the need to view a human being as a whole and the importance of taking responsibility for oneself.

Existential therapy

  • This form of therapy focuses on fostering free will and finding meaning in one’s life.

Client-centered or Rogerian therapy

  • In this type of therapy, therapists aim to convey absolute acceptance of and empathy towards all individuals.
  • The goal of therapy is for the individual to “self-actualize,” bridging the gap between his/her actual and ideal self.

Eclectic psychotherapy

  • If a therapist states that he or she is “eclectic” in style, this means that he/she employs techniques from several different schools of psychotherapy.

<back to top of page>