There are generally considered to be two main theoretical bases for psychotherapy.
Psychoanalytic – based off of the work of Sigmund Freud, and has evolved since the late 1800s. The underlying idea is that there is an unconscious part of everyone’s mind that has a powerful and meaningful effect on our thoughts and everyday actions. By trying to examine the unconscious, a person can better understand their life and gain more control over the things they think, feel and do.
Cognitive Behavioral – focuses more on the present, accessible thoughts and behaviors of people rather than the subconscious and seeks to address them directly in order to make positive change.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the psychological roots of emotional suffering. Its hallmarks are self-reflection and self-examination, and the use of the relationship between therapist and patient as a window into problematic relationship patterns in the patient’s life. Its goal is not only to alleviate the most obvious symptoms but to help people lead healthier lives.