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Modern day life has left people feeling that they aren’t present in their own lives, between multitasking and coping with complex priorities. Mindfulness, which has its origins in Buddhism, can help people achieve balance in their life, react calmly to distressing situations and to address negative habits. Therapists teach clients techniques such as mindfulness meditation, which allows the client to focus on their senses and take an objective look at their daily chaotic thoughts. Other exercises such as Thai Chi and yoga can also help clients feel present in the here and now. This is believed to enable the client to reassess their habits and find better ways to cope with daily struggles in an aim to reduce overall stress.

Mindfulness can help with insomnia, chronic pain, eating disorders and addictions. Furthermore, sufferers of anxiety and depression may benefit from more complex mindfulness based therapies such as:

  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) which combines mindfulness techniques with cognitive therapy. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has clinically approved MBCT as a ‘treatment of choice’ for those with recurrent depression.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is often used to treat long-term stress. It teaches meditation and other gentle exercises which allow a client to see events with clarity and work with their emotions effectively. The Mental Health Foundation found that MBSR has resulted in a 70% reduction in anxiety and an increase in disease-fighting antibodies to name but a few benefits.

Mindfulness meditation is a technique which has received approval from many GPs.

Family Therapy

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Family or systemic therapy is centred on the improvement of relationships between family members and how each member interacts with each other. This can help a family to settle tension, overcome life changing events and encourage members to act collaboratively and with empathy. A family therapist should be an unbiased mediator who can give each member the opportunity to contribute to discussion.

Systemic therapy is used because it looks at the family structure as a whole and not as isolated individuals. Family therapists can work with a range of issues such as divorce, bereavement, psychosexual difficulties and conflict between family members. Family therapists can work collaboratively with health professionals to target specific conditions such as ADHD, addictions and eating disorders, which may be having a negative impact on family life. Therefore family therapy is useful for short and long term difficulties.

Family therapy sessions are tailored to the key individual needs of the family involved, taking into consideration their ages and individual preferences. Techniques used may include those based around systemic theory, cognitive behavioural or psychodynamic therapy. Occasionally, family therapists may wish to see parents of very young children individually or other members before treatment starts to assess the family dynamic.

It can take several sessions for a therapist to help the family identify their strengths and weaknesses as a unit, develop communication skills and work to move forward. These will not necessarily be weekly sessions and the plan depends on the severity or specific factors of the problems at hand.


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Osteopathy is a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) when used outside of the US. It is founded on the principle that our general wellbeing depends upon our ligaments, muscles, joints and connective tissue working together. Osteopaths aim to find, prevent and heal sources of pain by massaging and manipulating the client’s muscles and joints.

When is Osteopathy used?

Osteopathy is often used on patients who suffer from lower back pain, sports injuries, arthritis, shoulder and neck pain. However, some osteopaths have promoted the use of such treatment on period pains and migraines but the evidence for its success is limited. Additionally, Osteopaths are qualified to identify problems for which a client may need to seek further medical investigation in the form of blood tests or MRI scans.

Osteopathy sessions often last just under an hour in which the practitioner will first address the client’s general health before physically examining the symptoms. The client may have to remove clothing so that the practitioner can address the affected areas. They use their hands to massage, stretch stiff joints and to move the body in its natural way (known as articulation). They may also use high-velocity thrusts in a motion with sharp movements to the spine. Practitioners must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) in order to call themselves osteopaths and use this method on clients.


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Traditionally, acupuncture aims to rebalance the energy that flows along the meridian points of the body with the insertion of fine sterilised needles into the skin. This works by stimulating nerves in the muscle tissue and under the skin. Traditional practitioners believe that acupuncture can restore the body’s energy flow or Qi.

Acupuncture therapy is carried out on clients who have had a medical diagnosis and is often used to treat issues such as headaches, lower back pain and nausea after chemotherapy, IBS and osteoarthritis. Occasionally, acupuncture is used as an alternative treatment for infertility or anxiety for example. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends acupuncture for chronic lower back pain and migraines, backed by scientific evidence.

Acupuncture practitioners should either be regulated healthcare professionals or belong to an acupuncture association. Some patients have recorded short term effects of feeling drowsy or dizzy as a side effect, but patients should not feel pain during the treatment apart from tingling sensations. Sessions generally last from 20 to 40 minutes and can stretch for up to ten sessions. There is a short discussion about the client’s general health, medical history and a short medical examination before any needles are inserted. Up to 12 acupuncture points will be chosen depending upon the symptoms of the sufferer and areas of pain. These needles are generally left in the skin for up to 30 minutes. Sometimes the practitioner may stimulate the needles with a mild electric current in a procedure known as electroacupuncture.

Interpersonal Therapy

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Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a type of therapy based on the theory that issues such as depression can cause difficulties in personal relationships and that these problems can in turn worsen the symptoms of depression. Therefore IPT is a short-term therapy, normally lasting 12-16 weeks which attempts to break this cycle and foster much healthier ways that the client can interact with the important people in their lives.

Interpersonal therapy sessions are at first centred on identifying the key areas of improvement and ordering these into when and how they will be addressed. Therefore IPT targets focused issues, aiming to gain results in a short amount of time. Sessions towards the end of the treatment plan will focus on honing in skills the client has learnt and making sure they can apply them to their life after therapy.

IPT is a therapy which can help with the following issues:

  • Poor relationships that the client wants to improve
  • Disputes which have originated with the people in the home or workplace environments
  • Grief or bereavement
  • Dramatic life changes which affect the client’s relationship role

Dynamic interpersonal therapy

Dynamic interpersonal therapy is similar to IPT but focuses much more on the link between the relationships of the client’s past and the difficulties that they now face. The therapist will help the client to understand how they have felt about past relationships in order to help them cope with their current relationships in a constructive way.


Integrative Therapy

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Integrative counsellors believe that therapy should be tailored to the client. All psychotherapy theories have merit but often contradict each other and must be integrated. Integrative therapy is founded on the principle that some issues cannot be solved using just one type of psychotherapy.

Integrative therapy is focused upon healing the client as a whole physically and psychologically. The therapist will help the client to identify their own limitations and work upon how to overcome them. Therapy involves self-exploration and allows the client to look at each moment or issue individually without a predetermined attitude or opinion.

What does Integrative Therapy entail?

Integrative therapists use various techniques such as cognitive and behavioural therapies, psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies and humanistic therapies. For example, a therapist might want to start on behavioural therapies with a client who has behavioural issues before they move on to analysing the emotions and past memories which may have had an effect on the client and how they behave. Integrative therapists must be non-judgemental, committed and build a foundation of trust with their client in order for the client to achieve their goals.

Integrative therapy can be a long process used to treat long-term issues such as anxiety, trauma or depression and is therefore not suitable for clients who are looking for short or intense therapy.

Psychosexual Therapy

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Psychosexual therapy is a method of therapy which aims to help people who suffer from psychological sexual difficulties. Clients may suffer from temporary or long term issues, and be of any age or sexual orientation. Sexual difficulties can often be embarrassing to talk about, even to a partner, so a psychosexual therapist can provide professional, empathetic and objective support on sexual matters.

Psychosexual therapists can help clients to overcome issues such as the following:

  • Recent lack of sexual desire
  • painful intercourse
  • difficulties with orgasm
  • arousal disorders
  • erectile dysfunction, premature or delayed ejaculation
  • post-abuse
  • breakdown in a relationship
  • not being able to achieve penetrative sex
  • sexual anxieties
  • menopause
  • pregnancy and postnatal sex
  • poor body image which affects intimacy

Psychosexual therapy does not involve medical examinations or any sexual acts; therapists are trained to listen and work through a client’s sexual issues and emotions only. Past events may be identified which have caused present difficulties such as sexual abuse which the therapist can discuss with their client. A treatment plan will be devised, which may incorporate exercises such as sensual touching for the client to practice alone or with a partner. Sex therapy can also help people suffering from chronic illnesses and disabilities by providing other solutions in order to achieve sexual intimacy such as artificial aids.

Professional psychosexual therapists should have been trained in a post-graduate diploma in psychosexual therapy and have taken part in at least 200 hours of supervised clinical work.

Psychodynamic Therapy

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Psychodynamic therapy is rooted in psychoanalysis, where a therapist observes the psychological processes of the client’s brain in order to address these problems and reduce their symptoms. Central to psychodynamic therapy is the relationship between therapist and patient. For example, when the therapist is put in a parental position this can help to examine how the client interacts with their real parents and ways to improve this can be discussed. This type of therapy is versatile and can be short or long-term, and used to treat individuals, groups or couples.

A key principle of psychodynamic theory is that people try to forget their painful memories and emotions by keeping them in their unconscious through defence mechanisms, repression and denial. Psychodynamic therapists aim to get their client to talk about their emotions in order to uncover what troubles them and then reduce or remove these defence mechanisms.

Improvisational psychodynamic music therapy

Psychodynamic therapists may also use music in order to allow the client to express themselves or feel more comfortable during a session. Various musical instruments are used by the client even if they have no experience. Music therapists can then interpret how the client uses the instruments to uncover their personality traits and their underlying emotional difficulties. When the therapist joins in on making this music a strong bond can be built between therapist and client as a foundation for further therapy. Music can also be played during sessions to relax clients who may suffer from anxiety.

Group Therapy

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Various types of psychotherapy can be delivered to a group, but group therapy is especially focused on the use of the group dynamic in order to work through issues. Group therapy is often very beneficial as clients can build their own support network and all have experience with similar difficulties. Group therapy can be used to treat issues such as addiction, depression, eating disorders, OCD, schizophrenia, relationship difficulties and self-harm.

Initially a group therapy session will allow a small group of clients to introduce themselves. Subsequent sessions will allow clients to discuss their problems and progress in an empathetic and trusting environment. Sessions will involve discussion, but also activities which the group can all participate in, such as team building, psychological and trust exercises. Each client does not have to take part in the group activity and can listen and contribute as much as they want to the discussion once they feel comfortable.

Overall group therapy aims to allow the clients to acknowledge their weaknesses and analyse their own behaviour through comparing themselves with other people. Group therapy provides an environment in which sufferers can exchange feedback and tips on how to cope with certain issues, whether that be from the therapist or other group members. Essentially, group therapy alleviates the pain of feeling isolated in suffering and allows the client to build a supportive framework for their confidential worries.

Bereavement Counselling

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Bereavement counselling aims to help clients who are suffering to cope with the confusing and chaotic event of losing a loved one. Clients may suffer from anger, guilt, overwhelming sadness shock, forgetfulness and an inability to concentrate. Overall, experts believe that there are four stages of bereavement. Initially a person must accept that their loss is real and then experience the pain of grief. The sufferer must then adjust to life without their loved one and start putting their energy into something new so that they can move on. Bereavement counsellors aim to help their clients move through these stages smoothly as a supportive and objective aid.

A client’s own family and friends may also be suffering from the same bereavement so it is useful to talk to an objective therapist as well. It is time to seek help when the person cannot function in daily life, sees no point to getting out of bed or neglects themselves or their loved ones for example. Bereavement can be a long lasting period either side of 18 months. Therefore, clients may also wish to see a counsellor a long time after the death of their loved one if they feel they haven’t emotionally progressed.

In some cases a client may seek pre-bereavement counselling if their loved one is suffering from a long-term incurable illness. In this case, therapists can help a client or their family to cope with their overwhelming emotions at this stressful time. Therapy for children facing this event may also be beneficial.