The Key Therapy Theories

As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist, it’s vital to understand and have a background knowledge of the differing approaches to therapy available today. There are a multitude of talking therapies, potentially something for everyone and every scenario. But with choice comes confusion, not just for the client, but for any prescribing professional. In the UK, only seven methods of therapy are available on the NHS, in other countries that rely on medical insurance, the selection is far wider. Here I will compare some differing psychological theories and conclude with how these compare to Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.


Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the psychological roots of emotional suffering, often relating to childhood experiences that remain in the subconscious mind. It encourages self-reflection and self-examination. Psychodynamic therapy helps people recognise emotions and unconscious influences that may be affecting their current behaviour. Sometimes people act in certain ways or respond to others for reasons that they don’t really understand, Psychodynamic therapy helps people learn to acknowledge and put into perspective their emotions. It also helps people learn how to express their emotions in more adaptive and healthier ways. It gives knowledge to the client; it enables them to identify patterns in their behaviour and therefore the ability to find new approaches to lead happier lives. Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a therapeutic approach which focuses on bringing the unconscious into the conscious mind and thus helps individuals to experience and understand deep-rooted feelings in order for them to resolve them. Its origins lie predominantly in Freud’s psychoanalytical approach but it is also influenced by the work of Carl Jung, Otto Rank, Melanie Klein and Alfred Adler. It’s used for Anxiety, Depression, Eating disorders, Relationship problems, Personality disorders, psychological distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, Substance abuse.

Cognitive Behavioural

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a psychotherapeutic treatment that helps to identify and change thought patterns that have a negative influence on behaviour and emotions. It focuses on changing negative thoughts that can contribute to and worsen emotional difficulties, depression, and anxiety. These subconscious negative thoughts have a detrimental influence on mood. Thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, realistic ones. It is often a 5-step process, identifying a problem, generating a list of possible solutions, Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each possible solution, choosing a solution and then to implement the solution. It is a very structured therapy and often sets goals and tasks to complete. Positive change is the focus. It was originally designed to treat depression, but is also used for Addiction, Anger issues, Anxiety, Bipolar disorder, Eating disorders, Panic attacks, Personality disorders, Phobias, Chronic pain or serious illnesses, relationship issues, Grief or loss, Insomnia, Low self-esteem and Stress management.


Mindfulness is the practice of becoming more fully aware of the present, rather than dwelling on the past or projecting into the future. Mindfulness has origins in Eastern philosophy and Buddhism. It is often combined with Cognitive behavioural therapy.Mindfulness observes and labels thoughts, feelings, sensations in the body in an objective manner. Mindfulness can therefore be a tool to avoid self-criticism and judgment while identifying and managing difficult emotions. Mindfulness incorporates mediation and is often used for reducing anxiety, depression and pain.Some of the key features of Mindfulness are that it is a Non-judgemental observation of what is happening in the moment rather than judging it positively or negatively, acceptance of thoughts, feelings and sensations and beliefs of the client without trying to change them and patience and trust in the client’s own abilities to deal with life’s experiences.


Transactional analysis is a method of therapy where social interactions are analysed to determine the ego state of the client, whether parent-like, child-like, or adult-like, as a basis for understanding behaviour. The client is then taught to alter their state as a way to solve emotional problems. The three states alter the way we feel and think, as a “Parent” we think and behave as our parents did when we were children, as an “Adult” we deal with the here and now, as a “Child” the ego state reverts back to thoughts, feelings and behaviours that we experienced as a child. Two states are rooted in the past and one in the present. Transactional Analysis is often referred to as an integrative psychotherapy because incorporates elements of other types of therapy, including Psychodynamic, Humanistic, Integrative andpsychoanalytical psychotherapy. It is used for relationship issues, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, panic attacks, family issues, fear of intimacy, parenting problems, workplace issues.


Analytical or Jungian therapy is a theory that emphasises the importance of wholeness. It was derived from the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung. It is believed that the unconscious mind is the most important aspect of each individual and that making as much of the unconscious mind as possible can help with healing and the attainment of wholeness. Dreams are thought to be a part of the unconscious andthat dreams show ideas, beliefs, and feelings of which individuals are not readily aware. Jungian psychotherapy aims to align conscious and unconscious thoughts. It examines the motivations that lie deep within the client’s psyche and underneath client’s conscious awareness. Jungian therapy draws on dream analysis, word associations and creative activities such as painting, drama, dance and music.


Humanistic psychotherapy is a positive approach to psychotherapy that looks at the whole person with an emphasis on an individual’s positive traits and behaviours and their own ability to find solutions to problems. The key characteristics and beliefs of humanistic psychotherapy are that people are inherently good and have a need to make themselves better. Every individual is unique and their experiences should be regarded as so. There is an assumption of free will, which allows everyone to make choices in life, the paths they take and the consequences arising from those choices. Everyone has the ability of self-actualisation. Individuals are personally responsible for self-growth and self-fulfilment and there is an emphasis on freedom and self-determination. It recognises the dignity and self-worth of individuals and their conscious capacity to develop personal competence and self-respect.


Existential therapy is a humanistic therapy which is centred on the nature of human existence. Its origins lie in the 1800’s in the work of some of the early philosophers such Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Existentialism holds a fundamental belief that each of us has an ongoing internal conflict around certain conditions that are due to the nature of our human existence. These are sometimes referred to as the givens of existence and are Freedom, death, isolation and meaninglessness. Existentialism is interested in helping the client find philosophical meaning in the face of anxiety by choosing to think and act responsibly. Some of the main concepts of existential psychotherapy are that we must face the fact that we are fundamentally alone in the world, contentment comes for understanding our lives, finding meaning and purpose in our lives is essential to our wellbeing, anxiety arises when we are faced with the ‘givens’ of existence, acceptance, freedom of choice and taking responsibility are key to our wellbeing and we must understand the connection between the life we are living and the choices we have made and exercise our free will to make good choices for the future.


Gestalt therapy was developed in the late 1940s by Fritz Perls and has the theory that every person is a whole (mind, body and soul), and that they are best understood in relation to their current situation as he or she experiences it. The Gestalt approach combines this relational theory with present state, focusing on self-awareness and the ‘here and now’. In gestalt therapy, self-awareness is key to personal growth and developing full potential. The approach recognises that sometimes self-awareness can become blocked by negative thought patterns and behaviour that can leave people feeling dissatisfied and unhappy. In Gestalt therapy the key goal is awareness and the therapist’s aim are to promote this in a non-judgemental way which enables clients to understand why they react and behave in certain ways. By raising an individual’s awareness around how they think, feel and act in the present moment, clients can provide an insight into ways of engaging with their current issues, alleviate their distress in order to aspire to their maximum potential in their relationships.

Neuro linguistic programming

NLP uses perceptual, behavioural, and communication techniques to make it easier for people to change their thoughts and actions. It was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who believed it was possible to identify the patterns of thoughts and behaviours of successful individuals and to teach them to others. Effective communication is the key elements of neuro-linguistic programming. Some of the techniques used are anchoring, which turns sensory experiences into triggers for certain emotional states, Rapport, the therapist tunes into the client by matching their physical behaviours to improve communication and response through empathy, the Swish method, which changes patterns of behaviour or thoughts to wanted rather than unwanted outcome and visual/kinaestheticdissociation, which removes negative thoughts and feelings associated with a past event.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy

​Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a 'talking therapy', it combines the use of psychotherapy with hypnosis. Hypnosis or 'trance' is a very natural, relaxing state, allowing the mind to relax and then focus on thoughts and suggestions that might be useful accessing the subconscious mind. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses practical, structured, and scientifically proven strategies to help people make positive changes in their lives in a relatively short space of time. There is no requirement to pour over and bring up past problems and traumas, as this type of therapy is in the here, now and tomorrow. Unlike other forms of therapy, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses a specific structure, which incorporates aspects of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Neuro science, Neuro linguistic programming (NLP), Mindfulness therapy, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Analytical therapy, Gestalt therapy, Humanistic therapy and combined with the use of Trance, making it a very comprehensive Therapy to assist with many issues that modern day life brings us. This is why Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be so beneficial, because it combines powerful solution-focused discussions, followed by a relaxing trance state, so that the ideas and solutions discussed can then be explored and utilised by the brain for positive benefit. As we can see, SFH is a combination of the best elements of many differing styles of therapy and its practice incorporates influences from esteemed therapists, scientists, researchers and the great Milton Erickson. Its solution focused approach allows clients to understand why they feel like they do and focusses on small positive changes to improve their mental health and wellbeing, allowing the mind to access its vast intellectual database to find solutions. Such a collaboration of different therapies ensure that clients are given the best possible chance of living the lives that want to live, giving them the knowledge to make a change, because as we know, Knowledge is everything….

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