by Andrea M. Darcy
No therapy can guarantee you’ll suddenly attract the partner of your dreams.
But all types of counselling and psychotherapy are designed to help you feel more at ease with yourself and others. This is definitely helpful if you want to find a relationship.
Even better, there are actually types of therapy you can try that focus almost exclusively on your relationships and ways of being around others.
[Curious about the exact ways that therapy helps you find a relationship that lasts? Read more in our connected article, “5 Ways Therapy Helps You Find and Keep Love.” ]
The types of therapy that focus on relationships
Below you’ll find both short-term and long-term forms of therapy that help you find and keep a relationship.
Not sure which one you need? Read our article on “Long or short-term therapy – 7 Questions to Ask Yourself First.”
Remember, you can always try a short-term type first, then commit to a longer-form later if required. What matters is not putting off seeking the support you need.
If you suspect or know that your relationship difficulties are due to borderline personality disorder, though, it becomes more about choosing a therapy designed for this issue, as listed below.
Short-term therapies that help you with relationships
Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)
Cognitive analytic therapy is a time-limited therapy that focuses on your patterns or relating with family, friends, colleagues and loved ones. How are these patterns affecting your wellbeing and self-confidence?
Using elements of both cognitive behavioural therapy and psychoanalysis, it helps you recognise and change ways of thinking and acting, but also looks to your past to discover how these habits developed.
CAT aims to be more client-friendly, personal and flexible than other forms of therapy. So it has a focus on the client not being a ‘patient’ but rather a collaborator, and lets you decide your own goals for therapy.
CAT therapy hones in on:
- how your problems and challenges are relational
- how you relate to others and yourself
- what you want to get out of therapy and change in your life
- how your relationship with your therapist is a blueprint of your issues
- what new ways of relating you can try out in the safe space of the therapy room, free of feeling rejected or judged.
It is an evidence-based therapy (proven by research to be effective) for borderline personality disorder (BPD). It can help anyone who struggles in relationships, including those who have a past history of trauma, neglect or abuse, or who struggle with sexual problems.
Read our comprehensive article, “What is Cognitive Analytic Therapy?“, for a more detailed overview.
Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT)
Dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT) believes that the way we relate to others causes our low moods, and that these ways of relating were learned in childhood. By identifying our habits of relating and working to learn new ways of dealing with others, we improve our wellbeing.
It is the other short-term therapy for relationship issues, often offered in a course of sixteen sessions. It rises from psychodynamic therapy, and unlike CAT, dynamic interpersonal therapy is very structured.
DIT looks at things like:
It is recommended for relationship issues as well as depression and anxiety.
Read more in our article, “What is Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy?”.
Long-term therapies that help with relationships
Schema therapy was created to help those with long-term issues that other therapies didn’t seem to help, such as those with personality disorders.
It combines elements of cognitive therapy with psychodynamic therapy, Gestalt therapy, and attachment theory.
Schema therapy does the following:
- identifies your self-defeating patterns of behaving and relating
- looks to your childhood to see where these patterns come from
- dives deep into your unconscious to help you unearth and process old emotions
- teaches you practical ways to make better decisions in the future
- uses the client/therapist relationship to stand in for the parent you never had.
Schema therapy is particularly recommended if you tend to have very intense relationships that fall apart one after the other, or have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) or any other personality disorder. But it also helps with relationship problems in general, including things like fear of intimacy, low self-esteem, and anger management.
Read more in our article “What is Schema Therapy?”.
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) centres on the idea that some people, either due to genetics or the environments they grew up in, are more emotional than others. They feel things more quickly and more intensely than others. This makes relationships difficult.
Dialectical behaviour therapy combines cognitive behavioural techniques with mindfulness.
Like schema therapy, it was designed for those who were resistant to others forms of therapy and who might suffer from personality disorders that see them struggle to relate to others.
Dialectical therapy helps you to:
- reduce your desire to hurt yourself
- raise your self-respect
- manage your emotions more effectively
- learn behavioural skills that make relating to others easier.
It is particularly helpful for borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is also recommended for those whose relationship issues stem from childhood sexual abuse, or who have a habit of self-harming or addictive behaviours.
Read more on our page about dialectical behaviour therapy.
Would you like to talk to someone about trying one of these therapies? Harley Therapy connects you to just such therapists here in London, UK. Not in England? Consider online counselling, help that goes where you go.
Have a question about therapy that helps you find a relationship? Or want to share an experience with our readers? Use our public comment box below.
Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert and a popular psychology writer. She also runs a consultancy helping people find their perfect therapy and type of therapist. Follow her on Instagram for useful life tips @am_darcy