What Is Action Therapy?

Action therapy, also called action-oriented therapy, is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on practical solutions to mental health problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most commonly used forms of action therapy.

Insight therapy is the other general type of therapy. Advocates of insight therapy believe that many causes of psychological distress are unconscious and rooted in early childhood, so patients need to first gain insight into those underlying causes in order to heal. One of the first forms of insight therapy was developed by Sigmund Freud, who used psychoanalysis and dream analysis to treat patients.

Advocates of action therapy often believe that practical solutions are the most important aspect of psychological treatment. They focus on teaching patients coping skills to help them manage everyday life and avoid harmful thought patterns. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, patients learn how to identify cognitive distortions that cause or exacerbate their mental illness and how to replace those harmful beliefs with positive ones. Interpersonal-and-social-rhythm therapy is another type of action therapy. Interpersonal-and-social-rhythm therapy helps patients learn to manage their moods by creating daily routines and support structures that contribute to a stable mental state.

Action therapy practitioners often emphasize scientific evidence in developing a treatment plan. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been proven effective for a number of mental illnesses.