Are There Different Kinds Of Cognitive Therapies?

By: Robert Porter

Updated March 17, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is among the most popular and common types of therapy. It is a style of talk therapy that is very useful for treating various mental health conditions. People seek out the help of a cognitive-behavioral therapist when they are suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, and much more. Even those who are just going through stressful times in life can benefit from seeing a therapist.


Are there different kinds of cognitive therapies, though? The truth is that various types of cognitive-behavioral therapy will differ in some important ways. In this article, you will be able to learn about the different types of therapies that are available. This will also show you what cognitive behavioral therapy is all about.

Cognitive Therapy Definition

The cognitive therapy psychology definition is that it is a short-term form of therapy that is based around changing the way that people think about things while also changing how a person feels emotionally. This is a pretty broad definition, but it rings true. A cognitive-behavioral therapist is going to be working with patients to change their thought patterns, behaviors, and much more. This can help people to stop focus on the negative aspects of their lives, allowing them to feel more positive and to natural work toward healing.

Of course, therapies like this are going to be an important part of treating many mental illnesses. There are some different types of therapies that are all cognitive-behavioral therapies by definition. Take a look at some of the different therapy styles below to see which of them may appeal to you.

Cognitive-Behavioral Play Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral play therapy is a common variant of the therapy that is used when treating children. A therapist can gain many insights by simply watching children play. Children may be uncomfortable doing certain things or expressing themselves in certain ways. This will be shown during their play sessions, and the therapist can take note of this information to come up with a treatment plan.

This type of therapy may involve asking a child to choose toys out of a large toy box and then simply letting them play freely. Other times, a therapist may ask a child to draw something or to try to use toys in creative ways. They can learn a lot through this process, and this can be very valuable for figuring out how to treat certain issues that a child may be experiencing. It is a fairly diverse form of therapy that has many practical uses.


Even parents will be able to benefit from this therapy. It can be used to teach parents how to communicate with their children better by playing with them. It is a variant of cognitive-behavioral therapy that has helped out many children and families.

Aversion Therapy

Aversion therapy is traditionally used to help treat patients who are suffering from some type of addiction. It is commonly used as a therapy method to help alcoholics and those who suffer from substance abuse issues. This therapy works by teaching patients to associate what they are addicted to something extremely unpleasant. If patients can start associating alcohol with something that makes them uncomfortable, then they will eventually start to avoid alcohol.

It can be a very effective way to help people who are addicted to things change their lives. One common way that this therapy works is that a therapist will teach a patient to associate their addiction with a very unpleasant memory. There are other ways that this can work too, but this is the most typical one. It is simply about conditioning the patient to want to avoid what they would normally desire.

System Desensitization Therapy

System desensitization therapy is a type of cognitive therapy that helps to treat those with phobias. People who are suffering from extreme fears will be able to benefit from this type of therapy. It is all about changing your cognition so that you can eliminate your fear response. Patients are taught to eliminate their feelings of fear and anxiety by using various relaxation techniques.


Learning how to breathe and relax your mind is an important part of this therapy. Certain breathing techniques are going to be very beneficial. Patients who can make use of these techniques properly will be able to reduce their fear levels and feel more natural when exposed to what they fear over time. For many patients, this type of therapy has been able to eliminate their fears.

It should be noted that system desensitization therapy is often paired with exposure therapy. This involves the therapist exposing the patient to what they are afraid of. If a patient is afraid of spiders, then they may be shown videos or pictures of spiders and will then be tasked with going through their breathing exercises. It is a useful therapy that can change the way that people respond to the things that make them afraid.

Important Cognitive Therapy Techniques

When it comes to traditional therapy, a cognitive therapist is going to use many techniques to help their patients out. Some of these will be very important to the process and will carry over into all of the other branches of cognitive therapy. Others will be more common in the specific cognitive-behavioral therapy branch that is the most common.

One of the best cognitive therapy examples is cognitive restructuring. This technique involves helping people to identify negative thought patterns and emotions. Once these have been identified, patients will be able to work on replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones. It works fantastically to help people to stop focusing on the negative aspects of life.

Another good cognitive therapy technique is known as an approximation. Have you ever had a hard time getting something done? Many people have difficulties with procrastinating due to being overwhelmed by a certain task. A cognitive therapist can teach a patient how to make use of approximation to break tasks down into more manageable chunks or to master a similar task before moving on to the task that they think is too tough for them.

It might seem like reading an entire book is going to be a daunting task. Reading just one chapter feels a lot more manageable, though. Changing your cognition can help you to get through tasks in life. Thinking about things and approaching them with a different mindset is a great way to accomplish your goals.

Mindfulness is also a well-known cognitive therapy technique. Many people even consider mindfulness-based therapy to be its branch of cognitive therapy. Regardless, you should know that mindfulness techniques teach you not to dwell on the negative aspects of life. Instead, you need to live in the moment and be mindful of your present situation.


If you tend to brood, then mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is going to be very helpful for you. It will give you a chance to refocus your attention on healthier things. It helps many people to avoid falling into patterns of depression or anxiety. This is an aspect of cognitive therapy that is becoming increasingly more prevalent due to how successful it is.

Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety - Does It Work?

People who suffer from anxiety often need the help of a skilled therapist to manage their condition. Anxiety can create severe problems in a person's life, so it is important to be able to have access to the right help. Cognitive therapy has proven to be one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. It helps people to learn to avoid anxiety triggers while also addressing many of the causes of anxiety.

Changing your cognition can certainly make you less susceptible to anxiety attacks and general anxious feelings. If you have been suffering from an anxiety disorder, then it is going to be very beneficial to reach out to a cognitive therapist. They have the right techniques to help you out, and you will be able to start feeling some relief from your anxiety symptoms.

Finding Cognitive Therapy Near Me

Finding cognitive therapy near you is not going to be difficult either. If you want to see a cognitive therapist to help treat anxiety or depression, then there is likely someone practicing this therapy in your town. This is a common form of therapy, and you can find a therapist near you by doing a quick online search. Just about any major town is going to have a therapist who can assist you.

Setting up your first therapy appointment will not be difficult, and you will be able to start getting help right away. If you feel like you need to talk to someone about what is going on in your life, then do not hesitate to reach out to a dedicated therapist. They will be glad to help you out with what is going on, and it will be good to have someone on your side that you can count on.

Online Therapy Is Also Available

You should also know that online therapy is also available. For many people, online therapy is going to be the most convenient option to consider. You can sign up for online therapy over at BetterHelp to receive the help that you need. They have licensed therapists who are dedicated to working together with you to overcome your problems.

If you live in a town that does not offer cognitive therapy or if you simply want to have a more convenient option, signing up for online therapy is advised. This allows you to decide when to reach out. You can schedule therapy sessions at times that are convenient for you. It is a lot easier than traditional therapy, and there are even several types of therapy that you can pursue.

Being able to reach out to online therapists will make a difference in your life. You will always have an ally on your side when you need a helping hand. They can offer you their expertise and will be there for you even during the toughest days.

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