There are various types of talk-therapy.

For example dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is the name given to one particulair style of talk-therapy.

For the type of talk therapy my question is about we can assume that there is only one patient and one therapist in each therapy session. There are no group sessions with 3 or 4 people.

What is the name for a type of talk therapy in which the therapist is viewed as a teacher and the patient is viewed as a student? Alternatively, there is a mentor-mentee relatioship?

I think that the "teacher-student" I gave above is vague, so I will try to clarify:

If a patient does not learn a new way of thinking about somthing, then the patient will continue to think about that thing in the way that they are used to thinking about it.

For example, if an anorexic person does not learn a new way to think about food or a way to think about their body-image, then the anorexic patient will continue to refuse to eat food (or only eat small portions).

This extends to behaviors as well as thoughts.. If a patient does not learn about a new way to behave, then the patient will continue to behave in the way they used to behave.

For example, a patient might always cut people off in mid sentence untill a therapist teaches a patient how to become aware, and notice, when other people have finished their sentences.

That is, if a patient does not learn any new ways of thinking or new ways of behaving, then the patient's old thoughts and behaviors will perpetuate themselves.

Please assume that the patients wants to change their own patterns of thought or change their own behavior, but the patient not know how to do so.

For example, one patient might have smashed their own cellphone in a fit of rage more than three times in the last month. Such a patient might ask their therapist, "What can I do instead of smashing my cellphone when I am angry?"

Likewise, someone afraid to go outside (an agrophobe) might tell their therapist that they want go outside. The patient wants to learn how to overcome their own fear.

A lot of types of talk-therapy in use today (e.g. DBT) are very "hands off"

I met a man with a Ph.D in psychology who told me that it is "unethical" to provide advice to patients.

I am seeking the name for a style of talk-therapy where a therapist is allowed to advise their patients (only if the patient explicity asks for advice).

For example, a patient might lock and re-lock the deadbolt on their apartment door four times everytime they come home (e.g. Jack Nicolsen in a fictional portrayal; "As Good As it Gets" 1997). I have no wish for therapists to stop a patient from locking and re-locking their door unless they ask, "how do I stop locking and re-locking my door each day?".

In what type of talk-therapy does a therapist seek to teach their patient how to replace their patterns of thought or behavior with alternative thoughts or behaviors, when the patient says that is what they want to do.

In what type of therapy is the therapists primary goal to teach the patient about some new peice of information, as if the patient was a student?

The new information would be new to the patient, but not new to the therapist or new to the field of psychology at large.

We wish to provide a patient with a strategy for managing their mental health problem which is novel to the patient, but it could be a very old technique (not ground breaking research) and it's not novel to the therapist; only novel to the patient.

Practitioners of this special type of talk therapy would likely agree with the following statement: "if a patient refuses to eat any food, then the patient will continue to refuse to eat food untill the patient learns about a new way to think about food or their self-image"

What type of talk-therapy describes a teacher-student relationship in which advice is given when it is asked for. No un-solicited advice is provided, but the the therapist will seek to change thoughts and behaviors if a patient says that they want to change their thought or behaviors.

The therapist would aim.to provide a patient with ideas,, strategies, suggestions, potential courses of action, etc... which the patient had not previously considered.

"Here is what you could differently next time"

This therapy would not be an exercise in active listening, or only providing emotional support.

The goal of this style of talk-therapy therapy would be to teach the patient how to deal with thoughts, emotions, and/or behaviors unwanted by the patient. For example, how to stop locking and re-locking the deadbolt on a door four times each time one enters a house or apartment.


1 Answer 1


I have often heard people say that they believe counselling involves the therapist being a teacher and the client is to be taught how to deal with their situation. This is a false premise for reasons I mentioned in my answer to Why are counsellors not supposed to give advice or lead the client? Is it possible for a counsellor not to be leading?.

You mentioned Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and there is a similar "therapy" called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Now, I have my thoughts on CBT et al. and in the main, I see them more as band-aids which are stuck over a problem to cover up the root causes so they are no longer affecting the client's behaviour. CBT, DBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Metacognitive Therapy (MCT) and similar are not counselling therapies. They are very brief integrative models of approach (generally 6 sessions which are rigidly structured) teaching alternative ways of dealing with the effects rather than dealing with the root causes.

With CBT, for example, you might be presenting worry issues so they will help separate those worries into "practical worries" (problems that are affecting you right now) and "hypothetical worries" (worries not affecting you right now) and teach you to just put the "hypothetical worries" aside and just deal with the "practical worries". For more on this see https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/worry-decision-tree/

In the CBT model, if there are no problems affecting you now, then great! You have nothing to worry about. But...

What if you are suffering from a degenerative physical medical condition? You may be worrying about how you may deal with life situations later when you are not able to walk as much. CBT says, don't worry about them because they are not affecting you right now. But, it may be beneficial to plan for those situations so that they are more easily managed when they do come up.

Sorry, I digressed a little, but...

What I just said demonstrates why counselling is more open, takes longer, and does not directly teach you to do anything specific.

Psychotherapeutic counselling following an ethical framework will provide you a safe and non-judgemental space to discuss and explore the issues you are facing with a person who is trained to listen and guide you through your journey toward discovering how your issues manifested themselves and how you can deal with the root causes such as grief, loss, guilt, shame...

Feelings such as guilt and shame can be so ingrained that you need to spend time with a trained counsellor to properly "unpick it" and deal with it. What made you feel guilty? When did you start feeling that? Why?... Is your feeling of guilt justified in your opinion? Why? Based on your knowledge and ability at the time, could you really have done anything differently?...

Each person is different and so you cannot put the feelings neatly in one box and say "this is what you must do to deal with this".

Going through the questions such as those I gave examples of, you are given the opportunity to safely examine your thoughts and feelings to determine their validity and correct misconceptions built up of the the period of time you have been dealing with your root causes and current situations which have arisen.

How your counsellor helps will depend on the modality (type/model of approach) of therapy they employ. There are many modalities and generally speaking, they are grouped into:

If you find that your therapist is not right for you, there may be another therapist who is a better fit.

If you are in the UK, The Counselling Directory has a searchable database of registered counsellors, but any counsellor registered with a registering body accredited by the Professional Standards Association is qualified and experienced to provide private counselling.


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