What are the lines of psychology and how to choose?

Getting psychological treatment can be a great way to deal with life – regardless of whether there is a psychological disorder.

However, it is not always simple to choose the professional’s line of work. Therefore, it is worth knowing a little about each one and its specificities.

Psychology lines: what are the main approaches?

Psychology is a broad field with different approaches. This means that there is no one more suitable or more effective – the ideal is that each person knows and seeks the one with whom they feel most comfortable.

Psychoanalysis

Perhaps one of the most famous lines of psychology, psychoanalysis was developed by Sigmund Freud at the end of the 19th century. For Freud, the human being is guided by innate drives that often go against the rules of society, in order to cause great anguish.

It is an approach that works with the unconscious and the things that remain there: traumatic memories, repressed desires, defense mechanisms, among others. It is one of the first lines of psychology and, therefore, one of the most acclaimed and controversial.

Treatment in psychoanalysis seeks to bring unconscious conflicts to the conscious and resolve them in a way that no longer causes so much anguish in the patient. In general, it is a rather lengthy treatment, often taking years to achieve satisfactory results.

However, this is not a specific approach to mental disorders. Anyone can benefit from psychoanalysis, since it is also a great tool for self-knowledge.

Of all the lines of psychology, psychoanalysis is the only one that does not require a degree in psychology to be practiced. However, it is necessary for professionals to go through the analysis process in official institutions to become a psychoanalyst.

People trained in psychology who do not go through this process may offer psychoanalytic-oriented psychotherapy, which is very similar to analysis, but they cannot designate themselves as psychoanalysts.

Analytical psychology (Jungian)

Analytical psychology arose from psychoanalysis, but diverges from it on several points. Postulated by Carl Gustav Jung, analytical psychology works with concepts such as the collective unconscious and archetypes, placing a lot of emphasis on patients’ dreams.

For Jungian therapists, dreams are a way for the unconscious to communicate with the conscious, clearly showing the conflicts that the person lives – therefore, these are a very important analysis tool in the therapeutic process.

Art would also have this same role and, in this approach, artistic techniques are often used, such as drawings, paintings, sculptures, sandbox, among others.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Proposed by Aaron Beck, CBT is a therapy that works with cognitive structuring, that is, it identifies and modifies thought patterns that can be harmful to patients, known as “dysfunctional thoughts”.

These dysfunctional thoughts are the basis for a number of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety .

Using well-defined techniques, therapists help patients to identify dysfunctional thoughts and challenge them, considering that, often, these thoughts are not in accordance with reality, being highly distorted.

In short, cognitive-behavioral therapy helps to build a more realistic view of life, helping to remove the cognitive distortions that appear and impair our thoughts.

Behavior analysis (behaviorism)

The focus of behavior analysis is human behavior and its variables. This type of therapy seeks to modify the so-called problem behaviors, that is, behaviors that a person may have that are not healthy or are harmful to his life.

For this, the therapist will analyze all issues related to the problem behavior, such as their background and their direct consequences.

From the analysis, it will outline an action plan so that the problem behavior does not occur, working with its antecedents, or is not reinforced by the consequences.

Shape terapia

Bringing gestalt psychology into the office, Gestalt therapy seeks to understand the human being as a whole, following the maxim that “the whole is different from the sum of its parts”.

Therefore, there is a focus on the search for congruence between thinking, feeling and acting. Working with concepts such as figure and background, here and now, Gestalt therapy aims to increase the individual’s awareness of his own needs and what he can do to meet them.

It is a humanistic therapy, which means that it is not a directive therapy and the patient is the one who chooses what is worked on each session.

Body Psychology (Reichian)

A relatively unknown approach, body psychology focuses on how psychological traumas and conflicts are recorded in the body.

Therefore, working the body through techniques such as Reichian massage, relaxation exercises and posture modification, for example, the idea is that such traumas and conflicts are worked on as well.

Despite being a therapy in which the body has a great relevance, it is still a therapy in which the patient’s word is very important. Therefore, it is not just a massage session, but an exploration of the psyche – and its individual characteristics – through the body.

Systemic therapy

Systemic therapy is well known for working with couples and families. This is because this approach focuses a lot on the system in which the person is included, as it considers that it helps in maintaining the person’s symptoms.

This therapy works a lot with the family dynamics and the influences they have, not only in their interpersonal relationships, but also in all spheres of their life.

Person-centered approach (humanistic)

There are several humanist approaches, but the best known is the Person Centered Approach (ACP), postulated by Carl Rogers.

She believes that all people have in themselves what is necessary to improve themselves, needing only an environment conducive to this – what is called an “actualizing trend”.

Unfortunately, on a daily basis, we live surrounded by situations in which we cannot do the best we can, as we are limited by other people, by the norms of society, among others.

However, by being in an environment where there is empathy, listening and acceptance, we are able to choose what we believe is best for us.

Therefore, PCA is a non-directive therapy, that is, therapists do not tell patients what to do to deal with the situations in their life, but rather help to identify what they think would be most appropriate. to the situation.

How do I choose the right line for my treatment?

Each person responds to treatment differently and, therefore, there is no standardized method of choosing the approach to treatment.

However, there is research that shows some recommendations for certain cases.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the one that presents the greatest number of scientific publications showing its short-term effectiveness in a wide variety of disorders.

This is not to say that this approach is definitely more effective than the others, just that, often, the results are seen earlier compared to other lines.

However, not all people adapt well to it, as it is a therapy in which the therapist is also the director of the session – everything is defined according to the patient’s objectives, of course, but the patient ) therapist who guides.

In other approaches, such as psychoanalysis and the person-centered approach, therapists are not a guide and the person who dictates how the session is done is the patient. For some people, this can be more effective than well-structured CBT sessions.

Depressive and anxiety disorders often benefit greatly from approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and behavior analysis.

Personality disorders are often treated with psychodynamic approaches, such as psychoanalysis, as they are less punctual approaches, which help a lot in self-knowledge and can bring relevant insights to the patient.


Therapy can have numerous benefits for mental health and well-being as a whole. Therefore, it is worth knowing a little more about the area and its approaches, so that each person can search for the one that makes the most sense for them.

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