While psychotherapy or ‘talk therapy’ is still the primary choice for treating various mental health conditions, many other forms of therapy have quickly risen in recent years as an alternative or companion to psychotherapy.
These alternative therapies, while not rooted in the traditional principles of medicine, are often used by medically approved psychotherapists depending upon a client’s requirements; with the practitioners of these therapies requiring appropriate licensing as well.
Here are a few effective therapies that are currently being employed alongside medical treatment.
1- Art Therapy:
The therapy was first used in America in the 1940s, and helps clients, particularly those suffering from anxiety, trauma, behavior and self-esteem issues, by providing them with a visual medium, such as drawing, painting, sculpting, observing various art pieces, or writing, to express and deal with their emotions. It is also used as a diagnostic tool for various mental health disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.
2- Dance / Movement Therapy:
Also introduced in the 1940s, this particular therapy is rooted in the idea that motion and emotion are interconnected, and hence focuses on self-expression through movement; either individually or in groups by incorporating specific movements, such as jumping, into a particular session based on the issue being treated.
It is most effective for people recovering from emotional, physical, or sexual abuse to help regain a sense of ease with their bodies.
3- Music Therapy:
Since music stimulates the release of ‘happy’ endorphin hormones, that result in improved blood circulation, blood pressure, pulse, breathing, and posture, the therapy involves treatment of stress, grief, depression, schizophrenia and autism, by listening to or playing music, or writing lyrics in a controlled environment, which aids in stress and pain (physical and emotional) management, communication, expression and memory improvement.
Commonly misrepresented in media and culture, hypnotherapy or ‘hypnosis’ focuses on overcoming addiction, phobia, and stress, as well as other mental conditions by quieting the conscious (analytical) mind and surfacing the subconscious (non-analytical) via guiding a client into a focused state of relaxation, and suggesting positive thoughts and actions to the client; that are then ingrained into their psyche after multiple sessions, leading to positive lifestyle changes.
Note that hypnotized people are not actually asleep, but in a heightened state of awareness and are entirely in control during sessions.
5- Laughter Therapy:
Used since the 13th century for pain alleviation, the therapy utilizes laughter through various exercises such as laughing loudly, recalling old, funny incidents, etc. to help reduce anxiety, stress, pain, and insomnia (in older individuals). It also boosts immunity and promotes positivity.
6- Light Therapy:
Known also as ‘bright light’ or ‘phototherapy’, it involves sitting or working near a ‘light therapy box’ that emits bright light similar to natural light in order to treat Seasonal Effective Disorder, or SAD (depression associated with seasonal changes), along with sleep, eating and bipolar disorder.
7- Primal Therapy:
Made famous in 1970 by American psychologist and psychiatrist, Arthur Janov, the therapy’s major principle is that repressing hurtful memories negatively affects the psyche, leading towards various mental illnesses. Hence, treatment involves confronting and expressing painful past events via venting mechanisms such as screaming and weeping; and finally letting them go.
People with anxiety, panic, or a particular phobia are taught to control involuntary processes such as strained breathing or increased heart during a panic attack, by placing electrodes connected to a monitor over the skin and inducing stressful situations, so that patients can actually observe these physical changes, and proceed to employ various relaxation techniques to control these reactions.
9- Nutritional Therapy:
Nutritional knowledge is utilized in the treatment of various mental conditions with the exclusion or addition of certain dietary components relevant to a particular condition. For instance, eliminating milk and whey to reduce symptoms of schizophrenia and autism, or prescribing B-complex vitamins, riboflavin, magnesium, and thiamine to treat anxiety, depression, drug-induced psychoses, and hyperactivity.
10- Animal Assisted Therapy:
The comfort brought by working with various animals such as dogs, cats, and horses, either individually or in groups, can help facilitate the treatment process of trauma, and other mental health disorders by promoting empathy, boosting self-esteem and communication skills, and overcoming loneliness.
While some, like hypnotherapy, can be used independently, most therapies are utilized in conjunction with psychotherapy and medication as a more targeted approach towards dealing with mental health issues. If you or anyone you know displays signs of mental disturbance, do not hesitate to contact a mental health practitioner.
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