May is just around the corner, which means it’s time for Mental Health Awareness Month. During this month and every month, it’s important to take care of your mental health and become aware of the resources that are out there, including the different types of therapy.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in three young adults experience mental illness. And according to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2020, young adults aged 18 to 24 had the highest prevalence of mental health issues. Though mental health issues are common among Gen Z, therapy has been normalized as a treatment to combat these numbers and as an outlet for everyday struggles wherever you are on the mental health spectrum.
The American Psychological Association explains that psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, helps people of all ages live a happier and healthier life with the assistance of psychologists. Talk therapy is the most common type of therapy today for mental health. It has numerous benefits, from helping you break unhealthy habits to pinpointing triggers. However, everyone has varying needs when it comes to mental health and talk therapy isn’t the only outlet out there for the many different areas of mental health. Here are seven unique types of therapy that can help you take care of your mental health.
- art therapy
Sometimes words can’t encapsulate what you are truly feeling, but art can. Art therapy uses creative expression to explore your inner emotions, which ultimately fosters healing and increases self-esteem, self-awareness, and emotional resilience. Art therapy comes in many forms, but the most common are coloring, collaging, painting, photography, and sculpting. The American Art Therapy Association has an Art Therapist Locator on their website where you can find a practitioner near you.
- sand therapy
Sand therapy is exactly what it sounds like. Through sand trays, patients create images that reflect their inner emotions. The presence of sand helps increase emotional expression in the patients while also decreasing negative emotions that might arise while discussing traumatic events. Psychotherapists use this technique to assess and treat mental illnesses through a less intimidating space. Sand therapy can be used in cooperation with talk therapy or art therapy. Sandplay Therapists of America can help you find a therapist specializing in this treatment closest to you.
- gestalt therapy
Rather than talking about past experiences, gestalt therapy encourages patients to re-enact them. This therapy helps you dive deeper and experience your feelings rather than just talking through them. After re-enacting, therapists will ask you questions like, “What is going on right now” or “How does this make you feel?” This form of therapy helps you become more aware of your senses, accept the consequences of your behavior, and learn to fulfill your needs while respecting others’. Psychology Today has compiled an extensive directory of licensed Gestalt Therapists that can aid you in finding one near you.
- dance/movement therapy
You’re not alone if you need a random dance party to get you through the day — I’m right there with you! In this therapy, you get to dance it out, instead of talking it out. Dance/movement therapy utilizes movement to promote social, emotional, and physical responses as a way to improve health and well-being. It taps into psychological and behavioral issues that speaking can’t address. Through exploring your mind-body connection, dance/movement therapy can help you overcome depression and anxiety, combat eating disorders, improve body image, and relieve everyday stress. Techniques of this therapy include:
- Mirroring the movement of others to develop empathy or to see a reflection of your feelings.
- Using dance to demonstrate a struggle in your life as a way to work through it and celebrate you overcoming it.
- Doing a gesture the therapist told you to do so you can observe it mindfully and become more aware of your body.
The American Dance Therapy Association can help you find a dance/movement specialist based on your specific mental health needs.
- light therapy
As someone who thrives off natural light, I feel for those of you who suffer mental health issues when the days get shorter, the temperatures get lower, and the sun gets dimmer. Light therapy gives you some much-needed Vitamin D and helps you work through symptoms of seasonal depression. Light therapy consists of a lamp or box that is typically composed of fluorescent lights and a plastic screen to filter out UV rays. The bright light, usually at 2,500 to 10,000 lux, simulates sunshine which boosts melatonin, serotonin, and Vitamin D. This therapy can be practiced right in the comfort of your own home without a practitioner. This list from VeryWell Mind provides you with the best light therapy lamps on the market right now.
- equine-assisted therapy
Equine-assisted therapy, aka horse therapy, uses horses to help individuals navigate through emotional experiences. Through grooming, feeding, and leading horses, horse therapy assists patients in regulating their emotions and improving self-confidence. The act of caring for the horse translates to learning how to care for yourself. The Equine Therapy Network provides resources for horse therapy in all 50 states.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is used to decrease negative emotions associated with traumatic experiences. During EMDR, therapists will move their finger side-to-side and as you follow their finger with your eyes, you think of a traumatic event. Through engaging your five senses, this process modifies how your brain reacts to memories of that traumatic event. It changes how your brain stores trauma which can decrease the pain caused by harmful past experiences. If you’re experiencing trauma or having a hard time overcoming negative emotions caused by past situations, the EMDR International Association has a list of EMDR therapists that can assist you in overcoming these struggles.