Could These Alternative Therapies Boost Your Mental Wellness?

Published on September 19, 2021

Woman in a yellow floral dress laying in a field of lavender with her eyes closed

If there’s one thing that’s become abundantly clear in the past year or so, it’s that health really is wealth. It’s becoming more widely accepted that mental health is just as important as physical health. That’s why doing things to maintain your equilibrium is essential. This could include adding natural mood boosters to your daily routine or trying out alternative therapies.

Trying something new doesn’t need to be complicated, and it definitely doesn’t need to break the bank, either. Plus, if you’re willing to experiment, there’s an ever-increasing abundance of techniques, tools and professionals you can try to optimize your clarity, peace and happiness (whatever that means, anyway).

Consult Your Doctor Before Trying Alternative Therapies

As always, consult your doctor before trying any new health regimen or if you think you may be dealing with a legitimate mental health disorder. They could be able to treat your condition through proven, science-backed treatments like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or medication.

If you’re looking for a way to supplement your current mental health regime or just infuse your life with some extra joy and balance, we explore four alternative therapies you may not have heard of, and whether the science backs them up.

Alternative Therapies You Might Not Have Heard Of

1. Hypnotherapy

Studies have shown that hypnotherapy may help with the treatment of things like chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, menopause and other conditions. But don’t worry, you won’t feel like you’re unconscious or out of control at all — with the right practitioner or recording, you’ll simply feel more relaxed, lighter and open to positive suggestions. Try looking up hypnotherapists in your area or get a taste for the therapy through videos online. There are hypnotherapy sessions dedicated to specific conditions like chronic pain, so see if you can find one tailored to your needs. Just note that the therapy has produced mixed results for treating things like smoking addiction.

2. Havening

According to a 2015 study conducted in the UK, a single session of “havening” showed improvements in people suffering from depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Developed by Dr. Steven Ruden and his brother Ronald, the alternative therapy involves a gentle physical touch on the arms, hands and face in what they say disrupts the pathways in the brain that generate feelings associated with traumatic life events.

While the technique still needs to be researched more, the brothers claim it can have permanent healing effects for many people suffering from things like PTSD, obsessive behaviors and more. The researchers state the study is “limited by its small sample size, lack of control group and that the sample selection was opportunistic which is therefore likely to be non-representative of the working population…. Given the limitations of this study the results should be regarded as preliminary.”

3. Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing or EMDR essentially involves talking through traumatic or stressful life events while following the hand movements of your therapist with your eyes. It sounds simple, but practitioners claim it can do wonders for transforming the memories of emotional life events to process them effectively, remove blocks and heal. Recent studies have shown that EMDR has been an effective intervention in the treatment of psychological symptoms stemming from adverse life events.

While it’s included in several evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there’s debates about how it works. The American Psychological Association states that while studies have shown EMDR produces greater reduction in PTSD symptoms compared to control groups receiving no treatment, “the existing methodologically sound research comparing EMDR to exposure therapy without eye movements has found no difference in outcomes. Thus, it appears that while EMDR is effective, the mechanism of change may be exposure – and the eye movements may be an unnecessary addition.” They conclude that more scientific evidence is needed before the controversy surrounding EMDR lifts.

4. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

By tapping into the unconscious mind, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) claims to reprogram your negative thoughts so you can communicate more effectively with yourself and others to get what you want out of life. Studies have shown the technique can hold its own among other psychotherapeutic techniques, however, note that it’s been discredited as a pseudoscience with little or no evidence available to demonstrate its efficacy.

Out of the alternative therapies we’ve explored, we can safely say that hypnosis seems to be the one most backed by science.

More Ways To Boost Your Emotional Wellness

Looking for more ways to boost your health and wellness?

If you’re looking to relieve general anxiety or supplement your existing treatment regime, here are five natural anxiety remedies that will help you cope. For stress relief, try yoga, which is proven to have therapeutic effects. To build skills to manage your stress, incorporate a mental wellness practice like meditation into your routine, or try walking meditations, which have countless benefits.

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The Author
Mackenzie Patterson is a Toronto-based writer and journalist. She enjoys long walks, iced coffee on tap, and discovering all the latest and greatest health and wellness trends.