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CBT, Counselling, and Family Therapy: Understanding the Differences

As a young person, you may have heard about different types of therapy, but may not know exactly what they involve. Navigating the world of therapy can be overwhelming, especially if you're not familiar with the different types of therapy available. In this post, we'll break down three common types of therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Counselling, and Family Therapy, and help you understand the differences between them.

CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours or habits. CBT can be helpful for anxiety, phobias, depression, PTSD, OCD, eating disorders, addiction, insomnia, anger management, relationship issues, and stress management. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are interconnected, and that by changing the way we think and behave, we can improve our mental health and wellbeing. An example of a CBT intervention is thought/belief challenging. In this intervention, the therapist helps the individual identify and challenge negative thoughts/beliefs such as "I'm a failure," with evidence that supports a more balanced and positive thought/belief.


Counselling is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals cope with everyday challenges and stressors. This type of therapy can be helpful for anyone who needs support in dealing with life transitions, relationship problems, or other personal issues. Counselling can be helpful for a range of life issues, such as relationship problems, grief and loss, and stress management. An example of a counselling intervention is active listening. In this intervention, the counsellor listens carefully to the individual and provides empathy and understanding, without judgement or advice.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on the dynamics between family members. This type of therapy can be helpful for families who are struggling with communication issues, conflict, or other challenges. A family therapist might work with the family as a whole or with individual family members to improve communication, build stronger relationships, and address any underlying issues. For example, a family going through a divorce might see a family therapist to help them navigate the changes and develop new ways of relating to each other. An example of a family therapy intervention is the family genogram. In this intervention, the therapist creates a family tree to explore patterns of behaviour and relationships within the family.

In summary, CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours, counselling is a type of therapy that focuses on providing support and coping strategies for personal issues, and family therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on the dynamics between family members. Each type of therapy can be helpful for different situations, and it's important to work with a therapist who has experience and expertise in the type of therapy that best suits your needs.

Don't be afraid to ask questions and voice your concerns - a good therapist will be happy to answer them and work with you to find the best approach for your needs. Remember, seeking help is a brave and important step towards improving your mental health and wellbeing.

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