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Mental Health Treatment Options: Side-by-Side Comparison

Depending on the patient's needs, providers may use one treatment type or tailor a program using different approaches together. Knowing the options offered before you begin can help you choose the best provider for your family.

The treatments included here are the most commonly used therapies and may be used in combination and/or with medication, depending on the patient's needs.

Take a look at this short video or read on below the video to learn about treatments in a little more detail.

Struggling to choose a mental health provider to work with your family? See our Choosing a Mental Heal Provider How-to Guide.

Behavioral Therapy

This type of therapy reinforces desirable behaviors and eliminates unwanted or maladaptive ones. The techniques used in this type of treatment are based on the theories of classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is another branch of psychotherapy where one or more mental health providers work within a group setting with individuals who share similar problems.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

CBT is generally a short-term therapy that focuses on identifying and eliminating specific unwanted thoughts or behavioral patterns. Used in treating a wide range of disorders, including phobias, addiction, depression and anxiety.

Marital or Family Therapy

This type of therapy is a branch of psychotherapy that focuses on the couple or members of a family. This type of therapy helps family members understand how their behaviors affect one another and provides instructions and strategies for making changes.

Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS)

CPS, a model developed by Dr. Ross W. Greene, is "based on the premise that challenging behavior occurs when the expectations being placed on a kid exceed the kid’s capacity to respond adaptively, and that some kids are lacking the skills to handle certain demands and expectations. The goal is to help kids and caregivers solve those problems rather than trying to modify kids' behavior through application of rewards and punishments."

Play Therapy

Play therapy is typically used with children. In play therapy, the child is encouraged to explore challenges or life events through play, talk or other expressions of his or her choosing. This type of therapy can be helpful with individuals who have repressed feelings or thoughts or to address unresolved trauma.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a type of CBT that has been modified for the treatment of chronically suicidal and self-injurious individuals. DBT differs from traditional CBT in its emphasis on validation – a powerful tool whereby the therapist and the patient work on “accepting” uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviors rather than struggling with them.

Psychotherapy (“Talk Therapy”)

Working with a mental health provider as a guide, the individual “talks through” general or specific problems. The mental health provider helps the individual to look at his or her feelings and behaviors in the context of those problems and discusses options for coping with the problems in the future.

Content Note: While ABA (a form of Behavior Therapy) is an evidence-based treatment, there is some controversy surrounding it. This article from The Child Mind Institute outlines some of the concerns and benefits of ABA that families should be aware of. Connecting for Kids also recommends that any parent who does not share a diagnosis with their child listen to adults from within the diagnosis community. The author of Autistic, Typing recently offered her thoughts on ABA as both an autistic and as a parent of autistic children. For more information on ABA, as well as alternatives to ABA, please contact one of our Family Resource Specialists.

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