4 Forms of Therapy that Actually Work

Brianna Li

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps change unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improves emotional regulation and develops coping strategies for one’s personal problems. Dr. Deborah Offner said, “Through CBT, many people are able to change their perspectives and beliefs and feel more in control of their decisions and relationships.” For example, one strategy that is used to treat depression is behavioral activation. Therapists would tell their patients to schedule activities in their lives that would lift their moods. Two other strategies include problem-solving training and social skills training. Although a large portion of this therapy happens during a session with a therapist, patients also have “homework.” Patients should try to incorporate the strategies practiced during their sessions into their everyday lives in order to see improvement in their mental health.

Light Therapy

Light therapy helps to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal affective disorder is the seasonal pattern of mood changes where a person becomes depressed during seasons that lack natural light. With light therapy, a patient would sit near a device called a light therapy box which emits bright light that mimics sunshine. Many patients who suffer from SAD have a light therapy box in their home or office because its small and affordable, and they find that the box helps ease their symptoms when used regularly.


Hypnosis is a technique with which therapists and clinicians help their patients achieve a state of relaxation. Offner said, “The hypnotherapist can help you access parts of yourself that you may keep at bay at most times, and can offer useful input or perspective that your hypnotic state will likely make you more receptive to receiving and integrating.” Hypnosis helps treat anxiety, habit disorders, pain, and other ailments.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a form of CBT that helps treat patients’ specific fears. To overcome fear, patients must confront their fear. The best way to do so is by exposing the patient in a safe, controlled way to learn that nothing bad happens. The patient would be incrementally exposed to their source of fear until they are no longer afraid. Exposure therapy can be used to overcome external and internal fears. This therapy moves at a pace that the patient can tolerate, and helps treat phobias, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.