5 approaches to individual therapy

5 Approaches to Individual Therapy

In a world where mental health is gaining recognition as a crucial aspect of overall well-being, individual therapy has emerged as a transformative force in people’s lives. As the cornerstone of personalized mental health care, individual therapy provides tailored solutions that cater to a person’s unique struggles, enabling them to overcome challenges, build resilience, and thrive. Learn 5 approaches to individual therapy in this blog.

5 Approaches to Individual Therapy

A Holistic Approach to Healing

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): One of the most widely recognized modalities, CBT equips individuals with essential skills to identify and reframe negative thought patterns. Recent studies have shown that CBT is highly effective in treating a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and stress disorders.

One study conducted a comprehensive analysis of CBT’s effectiveness by assessing data from 269 distinct research endeavors. Within this examination, particular emphasis was placed on 106 studies encompassing issues such as substance use, psychological disorders, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and related subjects. Notably, the study unveiled compelling evidence advocating for CBT’s efficacy in managing conditions including anxiety, somatoform disorders, bulimia, anger control, and stress. Through an assessment of 11 comparative studies pitting CBT against alternative treatments, it was observed that CBT showcased superior response rates in 7 instances.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Developed to address emotional dysregulation and self-destructive behaviors, DBT emphasizes mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.

A total of nine randomized controlled trials and five controlled trials have been carried out to assess the efficacy of DBT (see References List below). Notably, within these trials, two studies conducted specifically targeted highly suicidal women diagnosed with BPD, with a third trial for the same demographic currently ongoing. The initial study revealed DBT’s remarkable advantages across all targeted areas. In contrast to standard treatment (TAU), subjects who underwent DBT exhibited a significant reduction in both suicide attempts and instances of self-injury. Moreover, these intentional self-injury episodes were fewer in number, less medically severe, and coupled with lower treatment drop-out rates. Furthermore, participants in the DBT group reported decreased levels of anger, improved global and social adjustment scores, and experienced fewer inpatient psychiatric days.

A more robust control condition was introduced in another study by involving treatment from non-behavioral community experts (TBE). The outcomes clearly indicated the substantial benefits of DBT. When compared to the TBE approach, DBT resulted in a 50% reduction in suicide attempts, lower medical severity of self-injury episodes, reduced instances of treatment drop-outs, and fewer cases of emergency department and inpatient unit admissions related to suicidality.

Beyond the confines of the research clinic, numerous studies on DBT for BPD patients consistently underscore its superiority over control treatments. These studies consistently demonstrate that DBT effectively reduces intentional self-injury, suicidal ideation, inpatient hospitalizations, hopelessness, depression, dissociation, anger, and impulsivity. Additionally, research conducted on substance-dependent BPD patients, both within a clinic and at external sites, consistently positions DBT as the more efficacious approach in curtailing substance use.

Embracing Change and Mindful Living

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT focuses on accepting negative thoughts and emotions while committing to actions aligned with personal values. Recent findings indicate that ACT is particularly effective for anxiety and depression, allowing individuals to lead more fulfilling lives.

In one study, a group of scientists compared Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). They discovered that ACT has the ability to make negative thoughts seem less believable, which results in quicker improvements compared to CBT.

When it comes to studying how well it works, experts have discovered that ACT can be successful in addressing mental health issues like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, drug abuse, chronic pain, eating disorders, and work-related stress (Hayes et al., 1996Wang, 2017; Graaf et al., 2021ACBS, 2022). AsAs an example, ACT has shown greater effectiveness than cognitive therapy when it comes to treating depression. Additionally, ACT’s impact on managing workplace stress surpasses that of workplace behavior adjustment training. Furthermore, when treating social anxiety, ACT has been proven to be more effective than group cognitive therapy (ACBS, 2022).

Healing from Trauma and Reshaping Futures

Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD: Designed to alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cognitive processing therapy targets the way individuals process traumatic events.

Experiencing trauma can alter how you see yourself and the world around you. You might start thinking that you’re at fault for what happened or that the world is a dangerous place. These kinds of thoughts can trap you in your PTSD and prevent you from enjoying things you once did. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) offers a fresh approach to dealing with these distressing thoughts. During CPT, you’ll acquire techniques that assist you in evaluating whether there could be more beneficial ways to view your trauma. You’ll learn how to assess whether the facts support your thoughts or not, and eventually, you’ll be able to determine whether adopting a new perspective makes sense.

The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that CPT therapy has shown significant results in reducing PTSD symptoms in veterans.

Prolonged Exposure for PTSD: Prolonged Exposure (PE) stands as one of the extensively researched therapies for PTSD. Given the multitude of studies showcasing its effectiveness in various patient scenarios, PE has garnered the highest recommendation as a PTSD treatment across all clinical practice guidelines.

Operating as a trauma-focused form of psychotherapy, PE aims to address PTSD in individuals with complex situations, even including those dealing with additional challenges like substance use disorder. This therapy involves confronting and processing traumatic memories in a controlled environment.

The pioneering study on PE was carried out by Foa and her colleagues in 1991. They investigated the effectiveness of PE in comparison to Stress Inoculation Training (SIT), supportive counseling (SC), and a waitlist control (WL) among female survivors of sexual assault. After treatment, all groups displayed decreased symptoms of PTSD. At the 3-month follow-up, the most significant reduction in PTSD symptoms was observed in the PE group.

Other researchers, including Resick and her team in 2002, and Rothbaum, Astin, & Marsteller in 2005, also found PE to outperform or be as effective as other trauma-focused treatments in studies involving female sexual assault survivors. Through intent-to-treat analyses, it was determined that, on average, 53% of individuals initiating PE no longer met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder. This rate of diagnostic improvement increased to 68% among those who completed the treatment. Moreover, long-term follow-up data further supports PE’s effectiveness, revealing that 83% of patients who underwent PE no longer met diagnostic criteria even six years after their initial treatment.

A comprehensive assessment conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reviewed 19 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving PE. The evaluation, which employed rigorous criteria for assessing study quality, concluded that there is substantial evidence to support the potency of exposure therapy, including PE, in reducing symptoms of PTSD and depression, and facilitating the loss of a PTSD diagnosis. As per this review, trauma-focused therapies like PE emerged as the most efficacious interventions for addressing PTSD.

A Brighter Tomorrow with Individual Therapy

Individual therapy, with its diverse modalities tailored to unique needs, holds the power to transform lives. From combating mental health challenges to healing from trauma, individual therapy equips individuals with the tools to navigate life’s complexities. Remember, your path to a brighter tomorrow starts with the decision to embrace change and prioritize your mental well-being.

Your Path to Transformation Starts Here

At COPE Psychological Center, we understand that every individual’s journey towards mental well-being is unique. Our team of experienced therapists is dedicated to providing personalized, evidence-based therapies that address your specific needs. Whether you’re seeking individual therapy for relief from anxiety, depression, trauma, or other challenges, our modalities like CBT, DBT, ACT, and specialized trauma therapies can guide you towards a brighter future. Contact us today.


Bedics, J. D., Atkins, D. C., Comtois, K. A., & Linehan, M. M. (2012). Treatment differences in the therapeutic relationship and introject during a 2-year randomized controlled trial of dialectical behavior therapy versus non-behavioral psychotherapy experts for borderline personality disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80(1) 66-77.

Bedics, J. D., Atkins, D.C., Comtois, K. A., & Linehan, M. M. (2012). Weekly ratings of the therapeutic relationship and introject during the course of dialectical behavior therapy for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 29(2), 231-240.

Coyle, T.N., Shaver, J.A., Linehan, M.M. (2018). On the Potential for Iatrogenic Effects of Psychiatric Crisis Services: The Example of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adult Women With Borderline Personality Disorder.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Vol 86 (2), 116-124.

Foa, E. B., Rothbaum, B. O., Riggs, D. S., & Murdock, T. B. (1991). Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in rape victims: A comparison between cognitive-behavioral procedures and counseling. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59(5), 715-723. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.59.5.715

Harned, M. S., Korslund, K. E., & Linehan, M. M. (2014). A pilot randomized controlled trial of Dialectical Behavior Therapy with and without the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Prolonged Exposure protocol for suicidal and self-injuring women with borderline personality disorder and PTSD. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 55, 7-1.

Harned, M. S., Jackson, S. C., Comtois, K. A., & Linehan, M. M. (2010). Dialectical behavior therapy as a precursor to PTSD treatment for suicidal and/or self-injuring women with borderline personality disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23(4), 421-429.

Harned, M. S., Korslund, K. E., Foa, E. B., & Linehan, M. M. (2012). Treating PTSD in suicidal and self-injuring women with borderline personality disorder: Development and preliminary evaluation of a dialectical behavior therapy prolonged exposure protocol. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50(6), 381-386.

Jonas, D. E., Cusack, K., Forneris, C. A., Wilkins, T. M., Sonis, J., Middleton, J. C., Feltner, C., Meredith, D., Cavanaugh, J., Brownley, K. A., Olmsted, K. R., Greenblatt, A., Weil, A., & Gaynes, B. N. (2013, May). Psychological and pharmacological treatments for adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Comparative Effectiveness Review, No. 92. (Prepared by the RTI International-University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2007-10056-I.) AHRQ Publication No. 12-EHC011-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; April 2013.

Linehan, M. M., Dimeff, L. A., Reynolds, S. K., Comtois, K. A., Shaw-Welch, S., Heagerty, P., & Kivlahan, D. R. (2002). Dialectical behavior therapy versus comprehensive validation therapy plus 12-step for the treatment of opioid dependent women meeting criteria for borderline personality disorder. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 67(1), 13-26.

Linehan, M. M., Korslund, K. E., Harned, M. S., Gallop, R. J., Lungu, A., Neacsiu, A. D., McDavid, J., Comtois, K. A., & Murray-Gregory, A. M. (2015). Dialectical Behavior Therapy for high suicide risk in borderline personality disorder: A component analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3039.

Linehan, M. M., McDavid, J., Brown, M. Z., Sayrs, & J. H. R., Gallop, R. J. (2008). Olanzapine plus dialectical behavior therapy for women with high irritability who meet criteria for borderline personality disorder: A double blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 69, 999-1005.

Linehan, M. M., Schmidt, H., Dimeff, L. A., Craft, J. C., Kanter, J., Comtois, K. A. (1999). Dialectical behavior therapy for patients with borderline personality disorder and drug-dependence. The American Journal on Addictions, 8(4), 279-292.

McCauley, E., Berk, M. S., Asarnow, J. R., Adrian, M., Cohen, J., Korslund, K., Avina, C., Hughes, J., Harned, M., Gallop, R., & Linehan, M. M. (2018). Efficacy of dialectical behavior therapy for adolescents at high risk for suicide: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1109.

Miller, A.L., Rathus, J.H., Linehan, M. M. (2007). Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Suicidal Adolescents. New York: Guilford Press.

Neacsiu, A. D., Lungu, A., Harned, M. S., Rizvi, S. L., & Linehan, M. M., (2014). Impact of dialectical behavior therapy versus community treatment by experts on emotional experience, expression, and acceptance in borderline personality disorder, Behavior Research and Therapy, 53, 47-64.

Resick, P. A., Nishith, P., Weaver, T. L., Astin, M. C., & Feuer, C. A. (2002). A comparison of cognitive-processing therapy with prolonged exposure and a waiting condition for the treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder in female rape victims. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(4), 867-879. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.70.4.867

Rothbaum, B. O., Astin, M. C., & Marsteller, F. (2005). Prolonged exposure versus eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) for PTSD rape victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 18(6), 607-616. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.20069

Ward-Ciesielski, E.F, Tidik, J.A., Edwards, A.J., Linehan, M. M. (2017) Comparing Brief Interventions for Suicidal Individuals Not Engaged in Treatment: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of Affective Disorders. 222: 153-161

Wilks, C, Yin, Q., Ang, S.Y., Matsumiya, B., Lungu, A.,Linehan, M.M., (2017) Internet-Delivered Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Training for Suicidal and Heavy Episodic Drinkers: Protocol and Preliminary Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Research Protocol, 6(10), 207.

Wilks, C. R., Korslund, K. E., Harned, M., & Linehan, M. M. (2015). Dialectical behavior therapy and domains of functioning over two years. Behavioral Research and Therapy. 77: 162-169.

Let’s Talk

I Need Help