Unconventional Therapy Methods You Should Definitely Try

Are you tired of your routine sessions with your therapist? Are you looking for something fun and exciting to do instead of your usual counseling? 

Going to therapy is the best thing to do when you have mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression. And you may already be familiar with the usual activities that come along with psychotherapy. These may include writing a journal, daily exercises, and meditation.

But sometimes, you may want to explore other avenues to spice up your therapy sessions. Fortunately, there are different types of therapy that you can try out. You can find some of the more popular ones below.

1. Laughter Therapy

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Laughter therapy uses humor to help relieve pain and stress. It aims to improve a person’s mood and overall well-being. It will typically include various activities like laughter exercises. You might watch comedy shows and movies, read books and comics, or something else.

Laughter therapy uses the medically proven benefits of laughter. It draws people together and gives a very positive atmosphere. Aside from boosting your mood and well-being, laughing may even strengthen your immune system. Positive thoughts help release neuropeptides and endorphins that help fight stress and combat other illnesses. Furthermore, laughter enhances oxygen intake, which stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles. You may do laughter therapy together with a support group or alone at home.

Laughter therapy might also accompany other activities. One example is yoga. Laughter yoga involves learning how to laugh on purpose. What many people don’t know is that our bodies can’t distinguish between real and forced laughter. Both of them have the same positive effect on you and your body. 

The idea of laughing about nothing may make some feel awkward and deter them from trying out laughter therapy. But, finding something to laugh at healthily is very scarce, especially in the pandemic. You can definitely do with a glimmer of humor in your day.

2. Nature Therapy

There are times when we can’t stop our minds from racing. Sometimes, too many thoughts in our heads interfere with our daily activities. We need the space to get out of our heads and relax our minds in times like those. Being in solitude gives us a moment of peace to collect ourselves again. Nature therapy uses these ideas to help you.

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Nature therapy may also involve going to sessions in a camp outside the city. There, you’ll participate in nature activities in between your therapy sessions. It’s a completely different scene from your therapist’s fluorescent-lit office. This way, you still get on with your counseling while enjoying the fresh air. 

Studies have shown that increased urbanization may cause increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Conversely, living in a rural setting or being near lots of green spaces could decrease it. People who go out less frequently also show more signs of depression than those who go out more often. So go out and enjoy the sun as part of your therapy. 

3. Art Therapy

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Art therapy uses the creative process of various art fields to treat people with mental health problems. The act of creating art helps develop a sense of self-awareness. It helps us explore the many emotions we feel and raises self-esteem. It also improves cognitive and sensorimotor functions. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or addiction, art therapy can be a great help.

Professional art therapists facilitate several different activities and workshops you can explore. These may be in the form of attending art workshops or using adult coloring books. Alternatively, grab some paint and a canvas on your own. With the guidance of a professional art therapist, clients can express their unspoken thoughts. Your emotions can come out through your art. Art therapists also work with hospitals, schools, and veteran’s clinics. You can also visit their private practice. 

Art therapy can also be a healing process you can do as a group. You can get your friends, family, or the whole community involved in a large-scale project! Some art therapy workshops aren’t limited by age. This way, you get to strengthen your relationships and enhance your social skills. At the end of the workshop, you get the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of your collaboration.

4. Pet Therapy

Did you know that your pets can assist you on your road to recovery? We all know that our four-legged furry friends can really help uplift your mood and help you feel rejuvenated after a long and tiring day. And this seems to be supported by science. Indeed, having pets during therapy sessions has shown a significant reduction in anxiety, depression, and fatigue. 

Therapists and facilities that offer pet therapy have specially trained animals. Dogs and cats are the most common choice of pets for pet therapy. However, there are also times when a therapist uses horses, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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Meanwhile, therapy animals are specially trained to be sociable enough to provide comfort and companionship to patients. They are also not limited to your therapy facility. Some hospitals also use therapy animals and pet therapy to improve the mental health of their patients. They keep patients company during their road to recovery. They are also present in nursing homes, giving smiles and laughter to their residents.

People who seek the assistance of animals vary based on their needs. Some may be completely dependent on their pets for emotional support. Others may enjoy the benefits of visiting a service animal. Both of these are entirely acceptable. One thing is for sure: being with animals gives us a different sense of calm and joy.

Conclusion

There are many alternatives to conventional therapy out there. And they all bring several benefits to the table. You won’t be remiss in exploring these options if you want a change of pace. However, these activities are not a replacement for psychotherapy. These activities can help by applying these therapies in conjunction with talk therapy. Consult with your therapist to see which treatment plan is best for you.

How To Prepare For Your First Therapy Session

Resolving to get therapy is a difficult decision and always a brave one. It takes a lot of courage for someone to reach out and seek the help they need finally. It’s nerve-wracking enough already — even more so when you have no idea what to expect. Not knowing hinders a lot of people from deciding to get help.

When making that choice, there are always doubts. What will other people say? What if my therapist doesn’t understand? What if they can’t help? What if they judge me? These thoughts might plague your mind. But simply knowing what to expect could change your perception and ease your fears a little bit.

1. Be Proud Of Yourself

Getting therapy is scary, but just by deciding to seek out help, you’ve already made an enormous leap to getting better. The first step is always the hardest. So pat yourself on the back. Take some time to appreciate the decision you just made.

2. Take Your Time

It’s crucial to find a therapist that fits you. You need one that you can trust and be comfortable with, so you can make the most out of your sessions. Meeting with a therapist that makes you want to put your guard up will cause more harm than good.

Know that you don’t have to go for the first referral or the first therapist you find. Take time to search and narrow down your options. 

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3. Reflect On Your Thoughts

What’s troubling you? Why did you decide to seek therapy? What do you want your therapist to help you with?

Write down your thoughts, so you know what you want to bring up. Of course, it’s okay if you don’t know what you want to talk about. Maybe you don’t know what the problem is exactly. That’s what your therapist is there for. It’s their job to lead the conversation and sort out your messy thoughts, so don’t feel pressured if you don’t know what to say.

It’s still helpful to write down what’s bothering you, no matter how disorganized or minor it might seem. You can also write down questions you might want to ask. Also, remember to make a list of medications you’re currently taking; your therapist will want to know this.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

Your problems won’t disappear in a puff of smoke with just one trip to a therapist. That’s perfectly fine. Progress takes time, so don’t rush yourself. 

If you feel that you left something out during your session, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that there’s always the next one. Jot your thoughts down, so you remember to bring them up next time.

5. Show Up Early

Make it a point to create a cushion of time before and after your session. Opening up might take more time than expected, and understandably so! It’s normal to feel emotional in therapy, so feel free to let it all out.

Showing up early also helps drop your heart rate and blood pressure. When you’ve had the chance to sit down and relax, you’ll enter your session with a calm, clear mind.

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6. Don’t Be Afraid To Open Up

You might feel that it’s unnecessary to talk about the trivial things bothering you, like not wanting to do the dishes. But this is far from the truth.

As you talk with your therapist, be open. You might realize that there’s something you wanted to talk about after all; you didn’t consider it because you thought it was inconsequential. It might seem minor or pointless to you at first, but your therapist will know what to do with the information that you give them.

7. Be Honest

You might feel that what you have to say is foolish or nonsensical and that your therapist will laugh at you. But keep in mind that your therapist has your best interests at heart.

Communicate with your therapist. Pour out your thoughts and emotions. Also, be candid with them if they do or say something you disagree with or feel offended.

For your first session, your therapist will likely want to get to know you better. Don’t be afraid to ask and be asked. Be open and honest with your therapist. Help them help you.

8. Expect To Feel Awkward At Times

Sharing your feelings and opening up to a total stranger is difficult. You might feel uncomfortable and awkward, especially if you’re more reserved. Just know that it’s part of the process. It takes time to adjust to therapy. When you do feel that way, don’t be too hard on yourself. 

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9. Take Comfort In The Fact That Everything Is Confidential

Most worries surrounding therapy come from the fear of being judged or laughed at. But you don’t have to be anxious about this.

Your therapist is there to help you. Everything you say during your session will be kept under wraps. Your feelings, emotions, thoughts, secrets everything will be used only to find solutions to your problems and help you get through your concerns.

10. Listen To Your Gut

If you find that you’re not too fond of your therapist, that’s perfectly fine. One bad therapy session is not the end all be all. Not all your meetings with your therapist will feel that way. So don’t lose hope.

However, if you feel like it will be in your best interest to seek another therapist, let the other party know immediately. Likewise, don’t feel bad for wanting to find another therapist. You’re not a bad person for wanting to find someone you’re more comfortable with, so don’t feel so guilty and force yourself to keep going with a therapist you don’t trust. It’s counterproductive, and it will only backfire on you.

The First Step To Getting Better

There’s still a lot of stigma around therapy, but don’t let yourself get swept by them. In the end, judgmental opinions will never be more important than your health.

The bottom line is that you don’t need to feel anxious or pressured when going to therapy. You could walk into therapy with nothing in mind and find that once you start talking, your thoughts will spill out unconsciously and effortlessly.

By seeking out help, you’ve already made the biggest step. All that’s left to do now is open up to your therapist, don’t lock your thoughts up, and put in the work outside your sessions. Therapy isn’t going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.