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These are short summaries of a number of therapies. Please note that they do not cover every aspect of a therapy and you should do further research into those of interest.

The Bowen Technique

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The Bowen technique is used by practitioners to compliment other types of therapy and is believed to aid the body’s natural ability to heal and restore balance without intensive treatment. Bowen practitioners often work alongside allopathic health professionals to support their client in treatment. On average, clients are treated three to four times but may need to be treated over a longer period depending on their specific complaint.

During Bowen therapy sessions, the therapist uses their hands to gently target precise points on the body, applying pressure and using Bowen roll techniques. This action stimulates the muscles and soft tissue. This is relaxing for the client and is not supposed to cause pain or manipulate any of the client’s hard tissue. The Bowen technique allows the body to rebalance its energy and repair itself, having a long-lasting effect upon pain relief and the client’s general wellbeing.

When is the Bowen technique used?

One of the most common complaints treated by Bowen practitioners is back pain. However clients who suffer from respiratory conditions, neck pain and recurring headaches are also frequently treated. Furthermore, Bowen therapy is building its reputation with rugby clubs and premiership football teams as it used widely for sports injuries. Sports players who are regularly treated have reported fewer injuries and even improved performance.

Gestalt Therapy

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Gestalt therapy teaches clients that their interpretations of certain events is not always what is true in reality. The therapist will then help the client to identify the obstacles, patterns and thoughts in their mind which determine the way in which they respond to different situations in order for the client to better understand how to act in the future. The key concepts of gestalt therapy are:

  • Person-centred awareness which focuses on the future.
  • Treating the client whoever they may be with great respect
  • Focusing on the client’s experiences.
  • Experimental This is used by therapists to test their client’s experience in a creative and flexible way.
  • Encouraging individuals to adopt an egalitarian approach to social life.
  • Considering individuals to have good mental health when they have a good relationship with themselves and others around them.

The following techniques are all used in gestalt therapy:

  • Role-Play
  • The ‘Open Chair’ Technique: This involves two chairs and role-play in which the client imagines talking to their self
  • Dialogue which can evolve into laughing singing or dancing
  • Discussion of dreams
  • Attention to body language

Gestalt therapy is all about self-awareness and therefore is a suitable therapy for anyone who has trouble expressing their emotions or is going through a difficult period. It is used to treat a wide array of issues as it can be a short or long-term therapy. For example, gestalt therapy is used to treat issues such as post-traumatic stress, tension, anxiety, depression and addiction. Overall, gestalt therapy aims to make clients feel more confident and calm.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy

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It can be difficult for the human brain to recover from the thoughts and feelings produced from emotional trauma as they can constantly be triggered by small reminders.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) aims to help clients overcome the troubling effects of trauma by using eye movements to help the client desensitise and reprocess traumatic experience. Desensitisation removes or reduces the intensity of these emotions and reprocessing allows the client to replace these feelings with more constructive ones. EMDR is used to treat issues such as trauma, phobias, anxiety and depression. EMDR is particularly helpful for those suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder, who find it difficult to talk about their trauma as EMDR is a mainly non-verbal form of therapy.

How does EMDR work?

The movement of our eyes stimulates both the left and right hemispheres of the brain which correlate to our emotions and our rationality. This can help us to erase negative thoughts by forging new links and associations.

An EMDR therapist will work with their client to work out what triggers memories of their trauma and the client will be asked to follow hand movements with their eyes and may be tapped gently on their hands and knees. At the same time, the client will be asked to think about their distress in order to replace these thoughts with more positive ones. EMDR therapy will help a client to reduce their triggers and cope with the trauma that they have suffered.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy

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Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) was developed in the 1980s in the UK and aims to help us analyse how we behave, think and feel. CAT also teaches the client how to cope with stressful issues and other problems such as borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and phobias, but also work related stress, learning life skills and relationship problems.

How does CAT work?

During CAT, a therapist will work with their client to understand their client’s feelings (cognitive), and look at how they behave (analytic) especially in their unconscious patterns. Behavioural patterns can be investigated by looking at past events and those in childhood to see if they have influenced the client’s current responses to situations. Furthermore CAT enables the client to have a deeper understanding of their behaviour and emotions.

Both the cognitive and analytic parts of therapy are required in order to aid the client to positively change how they respond to everyday situations. CAT usually involves weekly or fortnightly sessions in which a therapist will tailor the time around the client’s goals for therapy. Therapists will first identify the patterns of behaviour which limit the client’s daily functions and begin to address these issues over the following weeks. Both therapist and client will then work together to explore how the client can do things differently in their life to improve their emotional wellbeing.

 

Art Therapy

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Art therapy can release pent-up emotions and allow a client to demonstrate how they feel if they struggle to open up verbally, bridging the gap between therapist and client. Activities such as sculpting, making a collage or sketching can help a client to relax and relieve their stress, it can also be empowering for those who find expression difficult. With its roots in the mid-20th century, art therapy is now used to treat issues such as addiction, physical disabilities, pain or illness and the management of stress. Clients are suitable for art therapy with or without artistic skill.

Art therapists can work with a number of clients; with groups, individuals or couples and are academically trained. Art therapists have been trained in many fields which include psychology theory, human development, counselling and art. They have been taught how to use art therapy with their clients for healing but can also analyse the piece of art produced symbolically or metaphorically to help their client.

For example, anyone suffering from anorexia may be asked to draw or paint how they see their body image as part of discussion. Children who are allowed artistic freedom may draw sad or depressing images reflecting their inner mental health. Anxiety may be relieved by allowing the client to explore their creativity with clay sculpting.

More information can be found from the British Association of Art therapists (BAAT).

Play Therapy

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Play fosters a good mood and is essential for our everyday lives. It is interactive and stimulating, relieves our stress and helps us to manage our emotions.

Adolescents and adults can receive play therapy but it is best suited for children aged 3-12 years old. During play therapy, the therapist structures play for the child which helps them think about themselves and how they interact with the world. Play is used as a form of escapism from the child’s problems so that they can address their troubling thoughts and emotions. Play therapy is used treat a wide range of issues including anger issues, trauma, ADHD, autism, the aftermath of divorce and more.

What does play therapy teach?

  • effective behaviour
  • different ways of interacting with others
  • respect and empathy for others
  • self-acceptance
  • confidence and independence
  • problem-solving skills
  • effective communication skills
  • how to express feelings and emotions

Parents or guardians are continuously contacted throughout the process and are occasionally invited to play sessions for therapeutic benefit of the child.

More information about play therapy can be found from the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT).

 

Nutritional Therapy

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Nutritional therapy is founded upon years of substantial research. Neurotransmitters which are linked to our mood are formed in our gut. Therefore, a nutritious diet and good digestion can ensure good health, wellbeing and healing. Nutritional therapy is based on two principles:

  1. Nutritional therapists must understand the individual needs of a client in order to create an optimal nutritional plan for them structured on factors such as gender, age and lifestyle. Supplements may be necessary.
  2. There are five parts to nutritional therapy which must be maintained: blood sugar, digestion, mineral balance, fatty acid balance, and hydration. As health issues occur when one or of these factors are neglected, a nutritional therapist will direct their dietary advice towards rebalancing this/these factors.

For example lack of iron in our diets can result in a slow metabolism and fatigue. Moreover, eating too few omega 3s and too many omega fatty acids can lead to issues such as skin problems, inflammation and depression.

Nutritional therapy can be beneficial for mental health. Therapists therefore advise their clients to choose foods which support the brain’s activities and to avoid toxic ones. Nutritional therapists also teach their clients about where our food comes from, how and where we should eat and the importance of how we store and prepare the food that we eat.

Cranio-sacral Therapy

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The body’s craniosacral system is made up of cerebrospinal fluid and protective membranes that envelope the spinal cord and brain. It is believed that the cerebrospinal fluid flows with a rhythm which can be disrupted. Therefore, cranio-sacral therapy focuses on releasing any blockages in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid to improve how the nervous system functions. A therapist achieves this with the gentle pressure of their hands on their client’s head and base of their spine. Cranio-sacral therapy is used to treat the following issues:

  • Pain: neck, back, migraines, TMJ (temperomandibular joint syndrome)
  • Learning disabilities and autism
  • Orthopaedic and coordination problems
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional problems, and stress
  • Spinal cord and brain injuries
  • Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue
  • Central nervous system and neurovascular dysfunction
  • Colic and other infantile disorders
  • Problems post-surgery

Cranio-sacral therapy is believed to strengthen the body in its natural healing powers and is a preventative measure against illness. It can be performed by massage therapists, osteopaths and chiropractors who will apply pressure or massage their fully clothed client. Sessions usually last up to one hour.

 

Child Therapy

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Child therapy is concerned with helping both children and their parents to cope with daily life. A child can benefit from therapy if they suffer from any of the following problems:

  • Problems with learning
  • Lack of control over tics
  • Low mood, difficult feelings or depression
  • Anxiety, fear and worry
  • Bullying
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Obsessions or compulsions
  • Poor communication
  • Difficulty in overcoming life-changing events

Parents can also benefit if they have trouble with the following:

  • Helping their child to overcome trauma
  • Managing adolescent behaviour
  • Understanding and supporting their child with ADHD or other autism related issues
  • Comforting their child through divorce or loss
  • Coping with behavioural issues such as toilet training
  • Supporting their child with low self-esteem or anxiety
  • Coping with the stress of parenting

How child therapy works

During the first session of child therapy, the child will be seen with their parents or individually dependent on their age in order to address the issues which are apparent and outline a treatment plan. If the child is very young it may be best for the child to be observed at home or school in order to make a judgement. This is discussed and agreed with parents or guardians beforehand.

Bach Flower Therapy

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Dr Edward Bach discovered how to extract a flower’s essence and dilute it for therapeutic use. The cells in our body respond to this essence which contributes to healing and balancing our emotions.

The vibrational impact of the flower heals and calms our mood which cannot be detected through chemical tests. Bach flower essences should be used little and often and used for therapy in the following ways:

  • Dropped in water to be sipped every so often
  • Dropped on the tongue or temples and wrists
  • Used in massage oils or bath water

Methods of creating flower essences for Bach flower therapy:

  1. The Sun Method: In the spring and summer, starting at 9 AM, flower heads are left to float on top of water in direct sunlight for three hours and then removed. The water is filtered and in this state is called ‘mother tincture’ and is added to the same volume of brandy. This tincture is diluted further for therapeutic use.
  2. The Boiling Method: For early blooming flowers, a boiling method is used. 10 parts water are used to boil 1 part flowers. This liquid is then filtered, mixed with brandy and diluted with ethanol.

Bach flower therapy facilitates the release of the body’s energy in order to allow the body to heal. It is not an absolute substitute for medicinal prescriptions or psychotherapy but should work as a component of treatment.

Essences are either chosen for the client through intuition or alongside the descriptions of which essences are suited to particular problems.

 

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

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Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) is used as part of counselling and psychotherapy and is compiled of three parts for the client. The mind (neuro) determines how we behave, language (linguistics) shapes how we interact with others and programming is the way in which we interpret the world around us. NLP aims to analyse the connection between our mind and language and how this shapes behaviour and body. NLP and emotional freedom therapy (EFT) can be combined to offer clarity and healing for a client.

NLP is founded on two basic concepts:

  • We cannot rely on our perceptions of reality from our senses because they are objective. This can be called our ‘Neuro-linguistic’ map which forms how we react to the world. It is this individual map which empowers or limits us.
  • We all interact with other humans in society and our environment forming a complex system in which we all mutually influence each other. Parts of the system cannot be isolated and are self-organised to achieve the greatest harmony or balance.

As humans cannot have one objective neuro-linguistic map of the world, NLP aims to form the widest and richest map possible for the complex system that we live in. A person who has a map of the world which allows them to identify the largest number of opportunities and viewpoints is the most effective. NLP aims to strive for individual excellence.

Light Therapy

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During the winter, daylight hours are reduced and many spend longer indoors, causing some people to suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Exposure to light therapy helps these sufferers to improve their mood and rebalance their circadian rhythms (our sleeping and waking patterns). Light therapy can also be used to relieve the client of jet lag, depression and sleep disorders. Light therapy exposes the client to a light that is brighter than indoor light but dimmer than direct sunlight. Tanning lights, heat lamps, UV light and full-spectrum light are not to be used for light therapy.

Client and therapist work together to decide when exposure to light will work most effectively, which is usually in the morning upon waking. The client should start to respond to the therapy after a few days but it can take up to a month for symptoms of SAD to decline. When is best to receive light therapy has not been fully investigated. However, some sufferers of SAD who wake up very early may find it more effective to receive light therapy for 1-2 hours in the evening leaving at least one hour before they go to sleep.

Light therapy is a safe therapy but results should be discussed with a doctor or therapist. Some side effects of light therapy include: nausea, sweating, agitation and headaches. However, these side effects can be decreased by spending less time under light therapy. Those with sensitive eyes and skin should not undergo light therapy. Always consult your doctor before undergoing light therapy.

Emotional Freedom Therapy (EFT)

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Emotional freedom therapy (EFT) believes that emotional and physical discomforts are caused by an unbalanced energy system within our body and therefore unblocking these disruptions can relieve the client of such pain. EFT aims to regulate the client’s emotions but not diminish them entirely.

Practitioners tap along the client’s meridian points with their own fingers to release energy disturbances whilst keeping the client’s mind in focus. Intensity of the tapping and the amount of sessions that a client receives depends on the intensity of pain or problem that they suffer from.

‘Tapping’ routines can vary widely between those learnt at home and those performed by a skilled practitioner. Some practitioners use EFT as part of their set of skills while others specialise solely in EFT. For intense treatment, a client may insist on seeing proof of professional training in the form of an EFT certificate.

Emotional freedom therapy is used to treat a range of emotional and physical issues including:

  • trauma
  • addiction
  • weight loss
  • anger and depressed mood
  • low self-esteem and energy
  • performance fears and phobias
  • physical health problems such as asthma or headaches
  • insomnia

Is EFT effective?

EFT is a short-term therapy as it works quickly unless the client suffers from much more severe issues. Results are long-lasting and any further problems can be revisited with more treatment.

Relationship counselling

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Poor communication, everyday stress and lack of empathy between a couple can lead to depression for one or both of the people involved in a relationship. Relationship counselling (also known as ‘couple therapy’) aims to work with these couples in order to examine the way they interact with each other which causes problems and help to resolve the resulting depression.

Relationship therapy can work successfully if:

  • both partners are willing to attend the therapy sessions and work together
  • they are in a committed, long-term relationship
  • one or both of the partners are suffering from a depressed mood
  • depression has been caused by problems in their relationship

What does relationship counselling entail?

A therapist will take an unbiased approach in order to help the couple to:

  • take control of their feelings and behaviour
  • analyse the effect that each partner has in the relationship
  • reduce stress and strengthen your communication
  • re-assess their perceptions and judgements
  • advocate compromise and acceptance in order to solve problems

Sessions are usually taken weekly. The couple will be seen individually for an assessment and then seen together thereafter. Initially they may be asked to complete questionnaires on how they feel about their relationship.

 

 

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) works to change the way in which we think about ourselves and the situations we are in, focusing on the present and not the past. CBT is used to treat the following issues:

  • Anxiety, Phobias, or Panic
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Schizophrenia

How does CBT work?

CBT works in two parts; one that is cognitive and the second behavioural. The cognitive part of treatment teaches the client about cognitive distortion (how we often assume that we know how other people criticise us when we can’t). Therapists will aim to pinpoint these negative thoughts and explain how these make the client behave or react in a certain way, in order to alter this mindset for the better.

The behavioural part of treatment gives the client practical tools which they can use at home and in sessions so that they can handle situations in a more positive way.

What does CBT involve?

Over weekly or fortnightly sessions, CBT therapists work with their clients to pinpoint what discomforts them and to talk about the client’s targets to achieve through therapy. Overwhelming issues are broken down into smaller parts with the client to be dealt with over the following sessions. The aim of these sessions is to find alternative and more positive ways for the client to think about their problems and manage them more effectively which may include altering their behavioural patterns.