Let’s face it: Sometimes life is hard.
And sometimes, we all may need help with navigating our way through the messes that life sometimes hands us. In situations like those, it might be worth considering some type of therapy/counseling.
One commonly asked question is: “Can I go to therapy even if don’t have a clinical condition?” The answer to this is a simple “yes.” Some people think that they should wait until something goes wrong before they seek help. In crisis situations—yes—going to therapy might be the right move, but it’s kind of like waiting until your house floods to by flood insurance. In other healthcare contexts, providers may refer to this type of actions a “preventative medicine”, “tertiary care” or even “wellness visits” because the patient is seeking out medical care as a preemptive strategy. It’s been well established that this approach to wellness reduces risk for certain diseases and is a wise, health-minded approach.
Once someone decides it may be time to seek out a therapist, even in an non-crisis situation, the next question is: “What type of therapy may be best for me?”
There is no simple answer to this question, and not all types of therapy will be effective for all people, but—as general guidelines—below are some of the options that are available.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This type of therapy has been around for decades, it has been well tested and has been shown to be very effective for a variety of mental health concerns (anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc.). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focus on the theory that how someone feels is a direct result of that person’s “distorted” thinking. In other words, what you think is what you feel. A therapist or mental health professional who practices this type of therapy will work with their clients in reducing negative thinking—or at least becoming aware of the negative thoughts and be able to challenge them. In many cases, positive outcomes are reported.
Psychoanalysis. This therapy is perhaps the oldest out of the categories we will be looking at, and although psychoanalysis has largely fallen out of favor and isn’t practiced much these days, it still has its adherents. Founded by Freud in the late 19th century, psychoanalysis had a firm grip on the psychological community for decades until it started to fall out of favor. Psychoanalysis looks at a person’s unconsciousness, and begins the healing process from there.
Pet Therapy, Music Therapy (and other alternative therapists). These types of alternative therapies are exactly what they sound like. In music therapy, for example, a certified music therapist will use music as a healing tool. A client may spend time with a music therapist in a group or one-on-one setting. Pet therapy is used in nursing homes and other community settings such as colleges and universities. Pet therapy has gotten a lot of press these days, and some scientific research has shown that pet therapy can be effective.
ACT/Mindfulness-Based Therapies. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and various mindfulness-based therapies operate under a different paradigm than, say, CBT. Here, while one is encouraged to be aware of their thoughts, they are not encouraged to cognitively re-frame them (or the situation). Instead, mindfulness therapies encourage one to be intentionally aware of themselves and their surroundings in a non-judgmental way. So, what CBT may call “distorted” thoughts (a negative connotation for sure!), mindfulness would say they are just thoughts, and one should simply be aware of them, label them, but ultimately, accept them and let them go.
No matter what type of therapy you choose—traditional or alternative—be sure to work with a licensed professional. Finally, consider therapy before a crisis hits. It may be more useful to have the mental tools in place before a crisis occurs.