Psychotherapies are categorized in several different ways. A distinction can be made between those based on a medical model and those based on a humanistic model. In the medical model the client is seen as unwell and the therapist employs their skill to help the client back to health. The extensive use of the DSM-IV, the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders in the United States, is an example of a medically exclusive model. The humanistic or non-medical model in contrast strives to depathologise the human condition. The therapist attempts to create a relational environment conducive to experiential learning and help build the client’s confidence in their own natural process resulting in a deeper understanding of themselves. The therapist may see themselves as a facilitator/helper.
Another distinction is between individual one-to-one therapy sessions, and group psychotherapy, including couples therapy and family therapy.
Therapies are sometimes classified according to their duration; a small number of sessions over a few weeks or months may be classified as brief therapy (or short-term therapy), others where regular sessions take place for years may be classified as long-term.
Some practitioners distinguish between more “uncovering” (or “depth”) approaches and more “supportive” psychotherapy. Uncovering psychotherapy emphasizes facilitating the client’s insight into the roots of their difficulties. The best-known example is classical psychoanalysis. Supportive psychotherapy by contrast stresses strengthening the client’s coping mechanisms and often providing encouragement and advice, as well as reality-testing and limit-setting where necessary.