(GoHealthier.com) – This world is every bit as bizarre as it is beautiful. Humanity is no exception. We can find creative ways to make just about anything weird, with some people even taking mental health therapy in their own wildly unique directions.
When it comes to mental health therapy, sometimes we need to think outside the box. Traditional talk therapy might not be the best fit for everyone. Most of us have heard of some well-known alternatives, such as music therapy and art therapy. But what about some of the more unique options?
Some techniques we’ve used in the past seem like they should be restricted to science fiction or even horror stories, and yet a handful of current options may go down in the books for being just as strange. Check out some of these 10 therapy techniques that may seem too odd to believe.
Some people might feel like they need therapy like they need a hole in the head — and then some people may actually go for the hole in the head. Trepanation is the oldest, and arguably among the most archaic, of surgery practices, literally entailing drilling or sawing a hole in the skull to allow “bad humors” and the like to escape. Although it’s lost favor as a treatment for mental health issues, there continue to be advocates for this bizarre practice.
Another long-used approach, hydrotherapy, involves subjecting patients to submersion or jets of hot or cold water to “shock” the mental health issues out of them. While water-based therapies have changed over the decades, some do still exist. One study highlights the benefits of water exercise therapy for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Other people simply swear by the healing effects of taking a good, hot soak every once in a while.
The scent of a room can make or break an ambiance, so it makes sense that aromatherapy might also have emotionally therapeutic effects. Research on depressed or anxious community-dwelling seniors showed lavender and chamomile oil helped improve mood. Another study found Rosa damascena and Citrus aurantium essential oils helped with the mental and physical effects of premenstrual syndrome.
This long-standing practice that meshes stretches, strength training, and mindfulness is much more powerful than it might look at first glance. Yoga helps condition the body while focusing the mind; in turn, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down and the body can shift into a calmer state. People who regularly practice yoga may be better armed to deal with heavy stressors that come their way.
5. Existential Therapy
This type of therapy has us search for deeper meaning in ourselves, our struggles, and the people around us. It has us accept anxiety as a part of being human, focusing on self-awareness and personal manifestation. Experts who subscribe to this approach believe it can help users better face uncertainty and conflict with courage, strength, and grace.
6. Equine Therapy
Sometimes, an animal can break past barriers other humans cannot, especially when trauma is involved. Equine therapy heals patients by establishing trust, boundaries, responsibilities, communication, and the mastery of new skills. Researchers have seen promising results in the mental health treatment of military veterans and people suffering from eating disorders.
7. Nude Psychotherapy
Yes, this is really a thing, although the practice has been mostly abandoned since its initial wild reception in 1967. Today, it’s most commonly used at workshops on intimacy. The underlying idea is that we can be our most “authentic selves” when we strip down to our bare skin. Whether it’s just weird or actually has scientific merit, this one definitely deserves an A for creativity.
Many of us might imagine whacko Mesmer mumbo-jumbo when we think about hypnotism, but most experts believe it has real, practical applications in mental health treatment. Evidence suggests hypnosis may be able to relieve anxiety and help with pain management. Current research is also looking at applications in treating depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and smoking cessation.
This extreme form of exposure therapy has patients face their biggest fears head-on. The practice might seem sadistic, but there’s a method to the madness. Experts believe most phobias persist because sufferers avoid the negative stimuli, which allows the perceived threat to continue to grow irrationally.
Flooding a patient entails blasting them with full exposure to their fear with the hopes of showing them how safe they actually are in the face of it. In theory, the greater the exposure, the less fearful a sufferer will become.
10. Scream Therapy
Scream therapy, also known as primal scream therapy, emerged during the 1970s. It’s based on the idea that our mental health issues stem from repressed childhood traumas, so “screaming it out” with a therapist can help. Although scream therapy’s effectiveness has been debated, experts say screaming does increase our dopamine and endorphin levels while decreasing stress-causing cortisol-similar to exercise.
Therapy is a science all its own, and in many cases, it’s just as much an art as it is a medical practice. We’ve seen some bizarre techniques through the decades, but even the least successful ideas have opened the doors to breakthroughs and better treatment strategies. Some therapy techniques might be weird, but sometimes weird works.
~Here’s to a Healthier Life!
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