The traditional image of therapy is one patient, reclined on a couch, with one counselor sitting off to the side taking notes. While this form of therapy does exist and can be very helpful, many other options are available today. Depending on a number of factors, one therapy that works wonders for your friend may have little to no effect on your mental health. If one-on-one talk therapy does not appeal to you, there are a few different options for you to treat your mental illness.
Art Therapy: Family Fun as Treatment
Art therapy is an umbrella term to describe any form of treatment that utilizes the arts. Art therapy to treat addiction, for example, might mean that whenever the urge to use strikes, the person will pick up a pen and paper instead. For mental illness, hobbies and crafts are a great way to soothe the mind. Furthermore, if you are a parent with little time to attend therapy sessions, art therapy can be a great way to spend time with your kids while focusing on your treatment at the same time. Scheduling arts and crafts time each day can help battle symptoms of mental illness while positively reinforcing familial bonds.
Animal Therapy: An Excuse to Go to the Local Shelter
Most people in the West will own a pet at some time or another. Animals usually are considered to be fun, lovable companions. However, studies have shown that dog owners, in particular, live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Pets reduce stress, alleviate depression, and if trained properly, can become service dogs to tackle larger issues relating to mental health. For example, a PTSD service dog might learn to bring its owner back from a flashback with pawing, licking, or barking.
Even if you are unable to care for an animal in your home, volunteering at the local humane society will provide the benefits of spending time with animals for those who struggle with mental illness.
Exercise Therapy: Benefit Both Body and Mind
It’s no secret that exercise is good for you. It keeps your body fit and healthy while providing endorphins to your brain. As therapy, exercise draws focus from things like addiction or mental illness to the moment. When you are focused on the exercise, it becomes difficult to fixate on things like anxiety or depression. Furthermore, keeping your body healthy also can improve mental wellbeing.
Regular exercise is a great way to conduct at-home treatment. Scheduling consistent, beneficial exercises that you enjoy are a very healthy treatment for coping with mental illness. Some good at-home exercise might be yoga or tai chi. Both are low-impact with a meditative or mindfulness aspect, combining relaxation and exercise.
Though talk therapy plays a role in many treatment plans, it also is important that you have tools for coping at home. Your mental illness remains with you outside of treatment, and it is fully possible to have a bad day when your counselor is booked and unable to see you. So, instead of turning to negative methods of self-treatment such as alcohol or drug abuse, be sure you have options for treatment at home. Has your counselor set up a plan for art, animal therapy, or exercise? While the treatments are conducted at home, it is recommended that you have professional guidance.
Jennifer Woodson enjoys serving the public as a writer for PublicHealthCorps.org. The site is dedicated to putting the public back into public health by serving as a hub of reputable and useful public information on health topics.