Mental health and well-being are incredibly complex and are contributed to by a variety of factors, including our past experiences, genetic makeup, current circumstances, and more. In the search for improved mental health and healing, many of us find ourselves navigating a myriad of recommendations and treatments.
On one hand, we have the popular traditional approaches — either those prescribed by GP’s and other medical professionals, or things such as talking therapies, which are widely accepted as safe and effective treatments for things like depression and anxiety. On the other hand, alternative therapies offer a different approach, with the promise of holistic healing that looks at the mind, body, and spirit — the whole person, if you will.
If you’re someone looking for the secret to better mental health, it’s essential to remember that each journey to well-being is deeply personal, and what works for one person might not work for another. In this post, we’ll delve deeper into both traditional and alternative medicine, to help you better understand the strengths of each approach and how they can come together to create a tailored, integrative health experience for you.
What are traditional approaches to mental health?
The journey of understanding and treating mental health is vast and ever-evolving. Traditional approaches, which many of us might be familiar with, often serve as the foundation for this journey. Traditional care could involve one-on-one sessions with a therapist or counselling sessions that employ techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), for example.
However, alongside these proven treatments, it’s not uncommon for a doctor to suggest medications. Whilst they might offer relief to some symptoms, it’s akin to putting a bandaid on a broken leg. For instance, if you’re feeling persistently low due to unresolved childhood trauma, a pill might lift your mood temporarily, but it won’t address the underlying pain from that past experience. When it comes to mental health, some traditional approaches are more holistic than others.
Alternative therapies: Different approaches for mental health
As we expand our horizon beyond traditional therapies, a treasure trove of alternative treatments unveils itself. Here at Integrated Health Specialists, we know that mental well-being is not a one-size-fits-all approach and that sometimes, a solely traditional approach is not the answer. That’s why we specialise not only in traditional talking therapies such as psychology and counselling, but have spent years expanding our treatment options to a variety of alternative options. This allows us to offer you a deeply personalised, tailored approach that addresses your unique needs regarding mental health and your overall well-being. Some of the alternative therapies we offer include:
- Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)
- Mindfullness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
While none of these methods provide instantaneous results, our clients are often surprised by the speed with which they begin to notice results. With consistency, these alternative therapies and others can target the very core of our mental and emotional challenges, promoting holistic and lasting health from within.
Understanding the limitations of traditional therapies
Navigating the world of mental health can sometimes feel overwhelming, particularly if you’re going through something that’s affecting your day-to-day life. You want quick answers and solutions (don’t we all?). Traditional approaches, grounded in years of research and practice, provide a tried-and-true path for many. These methods often include psychotherapy, counselling, and certain structured interventions such as traditional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), all of which have been proven to help individuals understand, process, and cope with their emotions and mental challenges.
Take, for example, someone who has recently begun to experience panic attacks for the first time. Let’s call him James. After seeking help through traditional psychotherapy and anti-anxiety medication, James uncovers the root causes of his anxiety (stress at work, uncertainty from a recent separation, and unprocessed childhood trauma). With talking therapy and the assistance of medications, he starts to feel more in control of his life again. But he’s still struggling with occasional panic attacks, and finds that even though he’s now aware of some of his triggers, unexpected stressors can send him into a downward mental spiral, making it difficult to function at work, and making him irritable and sleepless at home. His medication, on the other hand, makes him feel numb and out of touch with those around him. James isn’t alone. Although many people experience excellent results with traditional medicine and therapies, many, many others find they aren’t the answer. This can leave people feeling misunderstood and helpless.
Embracing the promise of alternative therapies
While traditional methods can offer a solid foundation, alternative therapies bring in a different, often holistic, dimension to mental healing. These therapies can range from practices like mindfulness, meditation and yoga, to acupuncture, herbal remedies, hypnotherapy, EFT, and more. Alternative therapies focus on aligning the mind, body, and spirit, in harmony, providing a deeper sense of connectedness and peace.
Let’s come back to James, who, despite regular counselling sessions, still feels a void in his healing journey. It is only when he incorporates daily meditation and mindfulness practices that he truly begins to feel more centered. His therapist also incorporates NLP, which helps to amplify James’ helpful behaviours and reduce negative ones, thus allowing him better control over his mental state. These techniques allow James to be present, to let go of past negative experiences and triggers, and reduce his anxieties about the future. Combined with his traditional therapy, this integrative approach enables him to build resilience and feel like himself again. In James’ case, a blend of traditional and alternative therapies is the answer to healing his whole self, with lasting results.
Mental health is a complex, multi-faceted journey, one that requires understanding, compassion, and personalised care. Integrating traditional approaches with alternative therapies offers a holistic pathway, addressing not just the symptoms but the root causes and the whole self. Just as every individual is unique, so too should their approach to mental well-being be. By being open to a blend of treatments, we can nurture our minds, bodies, and spirits, leading to a more balanced, fulfilling life.