Therapeutic Techniques: How They Can Help You Recover From Past Traumatic Experiences

Updated April 11, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

As the field of psychology evolves and becomes more dynamic, new therapeutic techniques are developed to better support individuals who seek therapy. Most therapists study several different techniques, but they often choose to focus on a particular method when working with clients. 

A few of these techniques can include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, client centered therapy, Gestalt therapy, existential therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. You may enhance therapy’s efficacy by trying yoga or meditation, practicing self-care, and engaging in regular exercise. To try therapy for yourself, you may seek out a local mental health professional or connect with one through an online therapy platform.

Discover the therapeutic technique that’s right for you.

Therapeutic techniques 

There are hundreds of therapeutic communication techniques and modalities care providers can use to offer quality care and mental and emotional support to clients. Consider the following modalities when looking for therapy services. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that usually focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Specifically, CBT usually suggests that thoughts can create emotions, and then those emotions can drive behavior. This type of therapy often works by identifying and correcting the negative thoughts that influence certain emotions, so they do not trigger undesirable or harmful behaviors toward the self or others. For example, a CBT therapist might help an individual with social anxiety develop communication skills like eye contact, active listening, and therapeutic communication. 

Dialectical behavioral therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, can be similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, but it normally focuses on the way that emotions can be connected to thoughts and behavior rather than the way thoughts can influence emotions. This type of therapy can also incorporate the concepts of acceptance and mindfulness to help clients let go of things they cannot control, accept things that are unpleasant or upsetting, and learn how to live peacefully with themselves and their environment. DBT teaches several communication techniques that can be used in a client’s daily life and is formed on the basis of a strong therapeutic relationship between the client and provider. 

Client-centered therapy

Client-centered therapy, also known as person-centered therapy, is a form of humanistic therapy that typically rejects the notion of the therapist being in control of the session. This perspective can allow the client to take the reins during therapy sessions. The therapist may act as a guide, helping the client understand their inner struggles and feelings. In this form of therapy, the therapist usually takes a non-directive approach and allows the client to explore themselves freely without interruption. Client-centered therapy often values acceptance and empathy, encouraging the client to freely express their thoughts, emotions, and desires without challenge or redirection from the therapist.

Gestalt therapy

Gestalt therapy is another form of humanistic therapy in which the therapist usually expresses unconditional acceptance and empathy while keeping the client focused on the present. The goals of this type of therapy are generally self-awareness and acceptance of the client's reality. Like client-centered therapy, the therapist may act as a guide, not a leader. The client can grow in their own way, on their own time, without interruption or influence from the therapist.

Existential therapy

Existential therapy typically focuses on philosophical and existential themes rather than technique or evidence-based practices, like the previously mentioned therapies. With this type of therapy, the client and the therapist may focus on the internal and spiritual challenges that the client faces to achieve existential, emotional, and psychological understanding. The goal of existential therapy is generally insight, not resolution. With insight, a client can gain an understanding of themselves and how they fit into the world.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a relatively new form of therapy that is specifically designed to help people who have post-traumatic stress disorder and related issues. EMDR can help the client cope with trauma and abuse by lessening the intensity of their traumatic memories and the distressing symptoms that they can cause. EMDR therapists often use exercises like having the client follow the trail of a pointer with their eyes to distract the brain from becoming too overwhelmed.

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

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More solutions

While you're working with a therapist to improve your well-being and mental health, there may be a few things you can do on your own to care for yourself between sessions. Some of these tools can enhance the positive effects of therapy.

  • Try yoga: The calming effects of yoga can ease any anxiety you may feel. When you go into therapy with a clear head and a calm mind, you may be much more successful.

  • Focus on yourself: Self-care can be of the utmost importance when you're participating in therapy. It can help to make sure your batteries are fully charged before each session with your therapist. The best way to do that is often to set aside time for yourself each day. You can use this time to take a bubble bath, read a good book, or engage in other activities that fulfill you. What you do doesn't necessarily matter as long as you focus only on yourself.

  • Talk a walk: Exercise may not only be good for boosting metabolism; it can also have great mental health benefits. Getting thirty minutes of physical activity a day can keep your body and mind healthy. Walking has been shown to release endorphins to the brain, which can combat stress and anxiety as well.

Discover the therapeutic technique that’s right for you.

Seeking help

Finding a therapist who is knowledgeable and equipped to help you can be challenging. The logistics of making several phone calls, visiting offices, and figuring out insurance premiums can be a barrier to receiving care. However, this may not be the only way to get the support you deserve. Online therapy can be another method of connecting with a licensed mental health professional who can help you address any challenges you’re experiencing.

Online therapy options have been found to be just as effective as in-person therapy. Specifically, one of the therapy options mentioned in this article, cognitive behavioral therapy, is one that can be frequently utilized in online therapy. One study explored 373 studies spanning the last couple of decades regarding the effectiveness of internet-based CBT (ICBT) for a large variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, phobias, mood disorders, and even physical ailments such as heart disease. 

The findings were conclusive that online therapy could be as effective as conventional therapy, and it could also remove many of the barriers in place with in-person therapy, such as cost, the ability to get to appointments, therapist availability, and stigma. If you still struggle to afford online therapy, despite its lower cost, you may be eligible for financial aid. Contact the platform you’re interested in working with to learn more. 


There are many commonly used therapeutic techniques within the mental health industry. Client-centered therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, existential therapy, Gestalt therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing may be just a few examples. It can be possible to make therapy even more effective by practicing self-care, trying yoga or meditation, and exercising on a regular basis. To get started with therapy, you can sign up with an online therapy platform or find a licensed mental health professional to meet with in person.
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