How can insight counseling help me?

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated March 27, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Insight therapy can help individuals learn more about the definition of this concept, as well as their own behaviors, thoughts, and emotions.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Learn about the various types of insight therapy

What is insight therapy?

This therapy is a type of treatment that aims to offer understanding into your behaviors, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. It is an indirect therapy that lets you do most of the talking rather than having the therapist ask the questions and lead you to where they believe the problems might be, like with behavior therapy. This therapy may seem more like a friendly conversation rather than a therapy session, and many people might feel more comfortable with this type of therapy. 

There are different types of this therapy; some are used more than others in psychiatry and psychology. The four types of this therapy are psychoanalysis therapy, cognitive therapy, humanistic therapy, and group, family, and marital therapies.

Cognitive therapy 

Cognitive therapy focuses on beliefs and thought patterns that may cause emotional or behavioral harm and how to change them. By talking about dealing with your unwanted behaviors and thoughts, you may be able to change your outcomes. There are two main cognitive therapy types: rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) by Albert Ellis and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) by Aaron Beck. 

REBT may decrease self-defeating beliefs by rationally examining your beliefs and consequences. CBT often assesses thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Assessing cognitive distortions may help you change unwanted behaviors.

Humanistic therapy

Humanistic therapy might focus on your personal growth with emotional reconstruction. In this type of counseling, theorists may believe that a client can block their natural growth potential and, as a consequence, develop self esteem issues or act in self-destructive ways. Rogers' client-centered therapy focuses on personal strengths and an inner instinct to become healthy and productive. The techniques of this type of therapy can include the following:

  • Active listening
  • Genuineness
  • Unconditional positive regard
  • Empathy

Group, family, and marital therapies 

Group therapy involves a group of people working toward similar goals. For example, there are depression groups that work with people who experience depression and anxiety groups that work with patients with anxiety disorders.

Family therapy involves the whole family or certain families when there is a problem or struggle within the family dynamic, such as divorce, conflict, or substance use (sometimes incorrectly referred to as “substance abuse.”) Marital therapy works with married couples to help them discuss their disputes and teach them practical communication methods.

If you are having difficulties with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.


Insight therapy theories

Below are a few different theories related to this therapy and theory. 

Dual process theory of insight

According to the dual-process theory, there are two steps to solving problems. The first step is using analytical and logical thought processes based on reason. The second step uses your intuitive ability and the automatic "gut feeling" process based on your experiences.

Three process theory

With the three-process theory, your intelligence may have a crucial role in gaining understanding, and there are three main processes, including selective encoding, combination, and comparison. Selective encoding is achieved by focusing on the ideas relevant to finding a solution while ignoring information that does not seem like a good fit. 

Selective comparison establishes a connection between experience and learned knowledge; selective combination can involve understanding various components of a problem and combining them to find a solution.

Understanding your actions 

Metacognitive therapies like this have proven beneficial to those who have compulsion disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). When an individual experiences anxiety or OCD, they may perform actions on a ritualistic basis to alleviate stress or mental pain. These compulsions can often create significant challenges and relationship issues in a person's life.

This therapy may also benefit those struggling with interpersonal relationships at work or home. If a person is struggling to form a healthy or trusting relationship due to constant misunderstandings and bickering, there may be an underlying cause. Metacognitive strategies can be effective in providing someone with the necessary insight to change their thought patterns as well as their associated behaviors.

Seeking therapy

You might consider seeking therapy online if you do not have the time to travel to a therapist's office. A study has shown that online therapy can feel more personal than traditional therapy. 96% of people using online therapy reported feeling a personal connection with their online therapists as opposed to 91% who saw face-to-face therapists. They were also more invested in completing homework that the therapists assigned them and occasionally reviewed correspondence between them and their therapists, leading them to move forward with their lives.

Depending on the type of therapy you seek, you might sign up for an online platform like BetterHelp, where a licensed therapist can work with you on concerns that keep you from fully experiencing life. You can meet with your online therapist from the comfort of your home (or wherever you have an internet connection) at a convenient time. You can also choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Learn about the various types of insight therapy

Counselor reviews

“Philip has assisted me in looking at and processing some issues in key areas of my life. This has resulted in greater clarity, understanding, and healing for me….Philip can listen and reflect back what I’m saying without judgment, yet with very helpful insights. He’s very supportive and has helped me become more aware of my strengths. Counseling with Philip is very beneficial. I look forward to my sessions, knowing they will be truly helpful.”

“Felicia has been profoundly communicative, doing an excellent job of clarifying some of my more discordant thoughts while introducing new lines of questioning to help me tease out some thoughts that have proven beneficial for giving form to some of my more shapeless issues.”


You're not alone if you have questions about insight therapy or therapy in general. Reaching out or making an appointment with a counselor can be one way of gaining understanding into your symptoms, thought processes, and concerns. Regardless of which of the four types of this therapy you choose, listening to a therapist and thinking clearly may allow you to make meaningful changes and see growth well into adulthood. Take the first step by contacting a provider for further guidance. 
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