Traditional therapy may not be for everyone, I know, so here are some alternatives. Some of these are real, recognised forms of therapy to help treat mental illness or better mental health in general; others are therapeutic exercises or activities that many find beneficial to their mental health.
This is just a term for therapeutic methods for health and healing that includes many aspects of the individual and treatments. It means looking at therapy from many points of view and using a variety of techniques together as an eclectic approach to better health. Think things like Ayurvedic medicine (Ayurveda).
So, when people say holistic healing, they simply mean coming at healing from the perspective of mind, body, and soul. To consider all parts of a person, their health, and their needs to gain relief and wellbeing.
Garden therapy/ horticultural therapy
This is where individuals use gardening as a form of therapy. Tending to a garden is beneficial for many reasons. It helps us to get outdoors, be within nature, concentrate on a hands-on task, and reap the rewards time and again. The healing effects of this kind of task have been proven to be wonderful.
This is basically a form of therapy that involves breaking things! This is particularly useful for those who suffer from anger management difficulties. Also known as Smash Therapy and you can search for Rage Rooms if you are interested in giving it a try. There is no denying the euphoria that you can get from letting your anger out on things that you’re actually allowed to break.
This one is just as it sounds; it’s practising boxing as a form of therapy. It is more gentle than actual boxing, and you’re not likely to get into a ring with an opponent, but much like destruction therapy, boxing therapy helps us to channel our anger or difficult emotions into something healthier. Getting your rage out on a punchbag can really help you work through difficulties. With a mental health professional present, you can then speak about your emotions when you’re ready.
This is a commonly known form of therapy where a practised hypnotherapist will help patients to call upon past, suppressed experiences or emotions and deal with them in a healthy, safe space. They can also help patients by changing their view on experiences or habits, and replacing them with a healthier mindset.
Acupuncture is an ancient Asian technique which uses fine needles (that don’t hurt, I promise) in the skin in certain points on the body. These are thought to be points of energy in the body, and accessing these points with the needles can help to relieve pain, tension, and encourage certain sensations and emotions.
I have had acupuncture myself and it was the most freeing, relaxing experience of my life.
Aromatherapy is the use of certain scents/smells for healing effects. Using essential oils and plant extracts, aromatherapists (and masseuses etc.) will be able to evoke feelings of calm, sensations of relaxation, and positive emotions in the individual.
Massage therapy uses the benefits of massage to give patients relief from stress, body pain and can aid in the relief from symptoms of anxiety. Massages aren’t just for getting out knots in our shoulders, they also provide great healing effects for individuals, both mentally and physically.
Many CBT therapists will suggest Negative-Thought Challenging to their patients. There’s a reason for this: working through your thoughts and challenging their validity can help you to realise that you needn’t feed your thoughts in the first place. Journaling is a way to do this.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve “figured out” what’s going on inside of me by simply journaling about it. It’s a great way to work through bad feelings, discover pent up feelings, and challenge thoughts.
I shan’t go into this in much detail, as I speak about meditation often on my blog. Meditation is a great source of healing and better mental health as it quiets the mind, stills the body, and awakens the spirit.
See my post here for more.
Again, I often speak about yoga so I won’t go too much into it. Much like meditation, yoga helps us to use our breath through gentle movements that relax the body, allows energy to flow through us, and quiets the mind – all perfect for relief from stress, anxiety, and depression.
Reiki is known as “energy healing” because the practitioner will use palm healing or hands-on healing to channel the energy of the universe through their palms into the patient. This is thought to encourage both emotional and physical healing.
I had Reiki massages when I was younger, and the heat and energy from this practice was very relaxing.
Again, see this article for more in-depth explanations on the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness is awareness and presentness. It is focus and attention in the present moment, which provides a plethora of healing effects for people, as the mind isn’t busy or stressed in the past or thinking too far into the future.
When people say this, they usually mean the use of water-based therapy for relief from pains in the body from injury or arthritis or the like. However, I believe that water activities can be therapeutic in terms of our mental health, too.
Water is relaxing for most; it is gentle and soothing as it gives a lightness to the body. This could be ever so beneficial for people who need to improve their mental health or gain relief from disorders.
This is a form of massage that is also known as Zone Therapy. Reflexology involves the application of pressure “to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion.” It is the “gentle manipulation or pressing on certain parts of the foot to produce an effect elsewhere in the body.”
Linked to holistic healing, herbal medicines are a great way to aid in your overall wellbeing, thus your mental health, too. Herbal remedies can be anything that has derived from plants and is used to treat or prevent any health problems. These can be used in the form of teas, creams, supplements, or liquid drops.
These can be used in the place of more traditional remedies and medicines, like St. John’s Wort, but speak to your doctor if you’re not sure.
Also known as Spiritual Counselling, Spiritual Therapy helps patients by targeting their spirituality and spiritual needs. It involves focusing on the “moral, spiritual, and religious influences on behaviour and physical health; the use of spiritual and religious beliefs and values to strengthen the self.”
I don’t know much about it, but it could prove very beneficial for some. Of course, many find comfort and healing in religion and spirituality, so cultivating that for yourself with the help of a professional could be useful for your mental wellbeing.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese Martial Art which is used as both a defensive art and as a health benefit. It centres around the philosophy of the forces of Yin and Yang (balance). This gentle art is very much like yoga in that the movements are slow, kind, and intentional with breath, concentration, and trust in the self – all good for mental wellness.
This is a personal favourite! Pet therapy, also known as Animal-assisted therapy, aids in the emotional, cognitive, and social functioning of an individual. Dogs and cats are the most common animals used for pet therapy, where people can experience a sense of happiness and wellbeing from being around these fluffy delights!
Animal-assisted Activities are a more casual form of this, whereas Animal-assisted Therapy is more structured, purposeful sessions.
Music therapy is the “use of music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients improve their physical and mental health.” Music therapy “aims to facilitate positive changes in emotional wellbeing and communication through the engagement in live musical interaction between client and therapist.”
We all know that music can influence our emotions, so this is a therapeutic method not to be ruled out.
Play/ art therapy
Art therapy or creative therapy involves “the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, colouring, or sculpting to help people express themselves artistically and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in their art.”
It is thought that one’s expression through their art can provide insight into emotional distress or difficulties that otherwise wouldn’t/couldn’t present themselves. I believe that creativity is very therapeutic in general, and seeing the results of that art can have euphoric effects.
It has been known for a while now that exercise (physical activity) can provide benefits for those with anxiety and depression. It is not a known therapeutic practice, but it is on people’s radar, even therapists. So, if you don’t like the more traditional therapies, then exercise therapy may be for you.
It is a way to get a dose of endorphins that increases dopamine and gives you a “high” that makes you feel good. Physical fitness and mental wellness are intrinsically linked, let’s not forget that.
*Please note that these are not to be substituted for clinical or professional help if you are suffering or have a diagnosed mental illness. Treatment is key and these may of course help, but I would not want anyone to avoid seeking professional help from a doctor if they were suffering.*
Do you know any more that I haven’t named? Drop them in the comments below to help others. Thank you.
If you need any help in bettering your mental health, or better coping with anxiety, depression, and stress, then my book “You’re As Mad As I Am” may be for you. Check it out here, and download a free sample to see what it’s all about.
If you want to hire me to write about mental health (or other), then don’t hesitate to get in touch!