Psychotherapy is a general term that describes the “talking work” done with a therapist. It’s the kind we see in movies: Someone discusses her emotions while a sage professional listens and helps her deal with immediate or more complex issues. But there are different methods of going about that process. To help you figure out which one might be most suitable for you, we spoke with Dr. Donna Ferguson, a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people identify their emotional and behavioural reactions and set focused goals to change them.

Is it right for you?

According to Ferguson, CBT is one of the most common therapies and can be used to treat a variety of mental-health issues, from anxiety to substance abuse. She considers it suitable for anyone as it can be combined with other forms of therapy (like couple or family counselling).

Art therapy

Patients use imagery, music and dance to express thoughts and feelings that can be difficult to articulate otherwise.

Is it right for you?

People of all ages, from children to seniors, can benefit from art therapy, and it can provide support to those coping with PTSD as well as physical ailments like cancer or developmental disabilities. “It might also be used when other therapies are not welcomed or as effective,” adds Ferguson.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

Patients focus on a traumatic memory while experiencing bilateral stimulation of the eyes (looking side to side in a rhythmic pattern).

Is it right for you?

Originally developed to treat PTSD, this therapy can help with symptoms – such as re-experiencing emotions that occurred at the time of a traumatic event when the memory is triggered – resulting from trauma that wasn’t fully processed.

Guided self-help

This is low-intensity therapy in which patients use a workbook or do an online course independently.

Is it right for you?

Ferguson encourages doing this in conjunction with treatment. It can also be more convenient for those who have tight schedules or want to try therapy before committing. She recommends the book Mind Over Mood: Changing How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

This practice incorporates mindfulness techniques with cognitive therapy methods to help manage stress, addiction and other conditions.

Is it right for you?

MBCT is about learning to be in the moment. If you struggle with being present, this might not be very effective. “Somebody who has difficulty looking into themselves and isn’t ‘inside-oriented’ may struggle with this treatment,” says Ferguson.

When traditional therapy isn’t the answer

Talk therapy isn’t the only option. These modern alternatives might just surprise you.

Let loose

Dance-movement therapy is exactly what it sounds like: an action-based approach that helps people work through a variety of emotional and psychological issues. Whether they opt for ballroom or ballet moves, dancers work to physically explore their feelings while releasing endorphins that help with sleep and boost resilience.

Check it out: The Dance Movement Therapy Association in Canada, based in Montreal, is a non-profit organization committed to developing dance-movement therapy across the country.

Seek a connection

Research shows that being cuddled reduces stress, so why not hug it out? (Once it’s safe to do so, that is.) Addressing both emotional and physical well-being, cuddle therapy is a group exercise that’s built on non-sexual touch. Cuddle work- shops allow you to explore affection, communication and boundaries in a safe and structured environment.

Check it out: The Canadian Association of Professional Cuddlers is a good option.

Get furry

Pet therapy, also referred to as animal-assisted therapy, often takes place in hospitals, on school campuses and in community centres because it’s tailored to people who are dealing with stress, anxiety or depression. Playing with puppies or kittens is not only obviously enjoyable but also reduces blood pressure, releases endorphins and decreases loneliness and isolation.

Check it out: Consult organizations like Therapeutic Paws of Canada or Caring Canine, which provide dog- and/or cat-visitation resources.

This article originally appeared in the ELLE Guide to Therapy in the May 2020 issue of ELLE Canada. Subscribe here or buy a digital copy of the issue here.