Is going to therapy the only way to treat a mental illness? Can we go beyond traditional therapy methods to address the current mental disease epidemic?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating mental illness, and no single treatment will work for everyone. Many individuals find healing of their mental illness beyond the psychotherapeutic or psychopharmacological models. Different types of treatments are often used to deal with different disorders, and the important thing is to figure out what works for you.
Alternative and Complementary therapies are being used nowadays in place of the traditional methods. Typically, these two methods blend and gradually adapt to each other. Complementary therapies have increasingly recognised the need for more research, while conventional therapies are increasingly accepting the mind-body-spirit trio.
So what are the non-conventional treatment methods? Complementary and Alternative therapies are generally used to increase relaxation, and promote good mental health. Alternative therapies are used instead of the established methods of treatment while complementary therapies are used in addition to the procedure of treatments. It is now being included in daily life and health care services for a more holistic approach to mental health.
It has also shown that complementary and alternative therapies are positively associated with the use of conventional medicine. Despite the efficacy and research for many mental health interventions, patients often discontinue the treatment due to the side effects. Patients often turn to CAM because of the increasing compatibility between their own beliefs and the therapies and because this also gives them a greater sense of control. People also prefer alternative therapies over traditional therapy due to expense and ineffectiveness.With more research still in progress, studies have begun to demonstrate the effectiveness of these alternative therapies to treat a variety of mental disorders.
These methods can be divided into 5 major categories
Mind-body medicines- This method employs a range of methods to increase the mind's ability to influence body activities. The physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of these disorders, according to common observation, cannot and should not be separated. Healers are often encouraged to focus on those aspects of themselves that are often ignored and neglected in the modern world. These techniques often focus on improving health, and examples of this are hypnotherapy, meditation, yoga, biofeedback, tai chi, and spirituality. Methods such as dance therapy and art therapy are also outlets for patients which allows holistic creative expression
- Whole medical systems-They have been completely built on therapy and have been practiced by individual countries throughout the world and are also in increasing demand by patients of late. These techniques promote the holistic development of the mind and body. Examples of this involve homeopathy, naturopathy, and Ayurveda. Homeopathy medicine often encourages people to join therapy and can give a person the strength to overcome chronic psychological defenses that are restricting growth. These treatments often support rather than oppose psychological healing.
- Biological-based practices- It uses substances present in nature as remedies and these treatments are easily available nowadays. Vitamin deficiencies are known to cause psychiatric conditions, which can powerfully influence emotions and behaviour. These include dietary supplements, Natural products and supplements, and botanical medicines.
- Manipulative and Body-Based Practices- They treat the conditions through bodily manipulations such as chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and massage. These therapies believe that the body can heal and regulate itself. It may be used to treat stress, pain, anxiety depression, and general well-being.
- Energy medicine- Spiritual healers believe that energy affects our physical and mental health and this focuses on energy fields that surround us in and around our body. These therapies also encompass the use of external energy sources (electromagnetic fields) to influence health and healing. Examples include qigong, Reiki, and Therapeutic Touch.
These emerging therapies do not reject the conventional methods, but rather provide a holistic and integrative approach to curing mental health. While this area is still under study, many practitioners have started employing alternative therapies, and some of these therapies, such as mindfulness have also become mainstream. Though most Complementary and Alternative therapies are safe, before trying out these alternative therapies, one must consult with a doctor to find out what's suitable for them!
You can also refer to Mystery solved. What is Hypnotherapy? to learn more about hypnotherapy.