Understanding Therapy

As part of our special series, Understanding Therapy, The Health Collective features Dr Bhavana Gautam. Dr Gautam is a wellness consultant and certified Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) counsellor practising in Mumbai, Maharashtra. She speaks to The Health Collective about therapy and the importance of trust and communication between patients and therapists.

It’s important to keep in mind: There’s no one universal approach. Most therapists use different approaches as a roadmap to understand their client’s issues, and to work out the best practical solution.

Different Types of Therapy

  • Psychoanalysis – founded by Sigmund Freud this therapy believes in connecting with unconscious thoughts and feelings, to gain more insight of the current behaviour and feelings. It works on releasing repressed emotions and experiences. This type of therapy relies heavily on the interpretation of the therapist

  • Behaviour therapy – this type of therapy works on the role of learning in the development of normal and abnormal behaviours. A range of techniques are used to work on abnormal or unhealthy behaviours. most common and popular in this category is Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which focuses on the current problem and how to solve it

  • Cognitive therapy – this type of therapy works on the irrational or dysfunctional thoughts that are the cause of the current irrational behaviour. Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) belongs to this category. CBT could also be categorised here, considering it works on thoughts and behaviours too.
    In cognitive therapy, the patient is an active participant and is encouraged to work on identifying the problem, discovering the solution and enforcing it by self-motivation to ensure a much better compliance and impact

  • Humanistic therapy – in this case the emphasis is on the capacity of an individual to make rational choices and the therapist is not the authority and the individual is shown respect and concern to make changes for his own interest. In both cognitive therapy and humanistic therapy, the role of the therapist is to work together with the client and support them in discovering and implementing rational living.

  • Holistic therapy – most therapists do not have any one single approach and use a blend of the above therapies to reach the desired goal.


Why is it important to think about all of these options? 
These are exactly the kind of details that need to be readily available to many. Understanding how therapy works opens doors for individuals who are considering stepping into a counselling session.

It’s hard to take that first step to get help, sometimes — it’s a leap of faith. We understand that. And while taking that initial step doesn’t make for an easy conversation, educating oneself definitely helps with doubts and concerns.

Choosing to continue therapy could also prove to be a difficult choice for some.

To quote Dr Gautam:

“Individuals believe that the root of their current dysfunctional feeling is beyond them (a situation or a person). While this is true for a small number of cases, in most instances the problem is within the individual (his irrational beliefs, thoughts, feelings etc) and this can be a very uncomfortable truth to accept.”

The hard truth is that this acceptance cannot be enforced by a therapist and must come from within. Loved ones can also play a huge role here. Dr. Gautam believes, “The socio-cultural environment as well as general awareness levels has a significant impact on the acceptance of therapy.”


An individual’s ability to function at her highest potential depends on her mental and emotional health, an understanding that is still absent in Indian society.

What are some reasons for this?

  • The stigma attached with accepting a mental health issue or illness

  • Lack of awareness that results in lack of acceptance of issues like depression, eating disorders, anxiety, stress etc as mental health problems that deserve treatment

  • Lack of access to therapists, and not having knowledge of who or how to approach

  • The desire to find quick pill-popping solutions to a mental health crisis rather than working with a therapist over a period to achieve a more holistic and sustainable solution


We do know that open dialogue plays a huge role in normalising conversations around Mental Health. Thanks to this sort of dialogue, young adults and adolescents tend to approach therapy with an open mind – a change that is slow and gradual, Dr Gautam feels. It is also significant that people understand that therapy depends on a relationship of mutual respect, concern and trust.


Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal. Material on The Health Collective cannot substitute for expert advice from a trained professional.

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