Guide to Mental Health
Counselling aims to give you a safe, confidential space to talk about your thoughts and feelings with someone who will listen to you. It’s often a shorter, more focused treatment than psychotherapy. You are likely to focus on one or two particular issues you want to work on, and you might not go into too much depth about your past or difficult thoughts and feelings.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT looks at how your feelings, thoughts and behaviours are influenced by each other and how you can change the patterns related to these. There’s evidence that CBT is particularly effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety. It can also assist with other mental health problems.
An existential/experiential form of psychotherapy that emphasises personal responsibility, and focuses on your experience in the present moment; the therapist–client relationship; the environmental and social contexts of your life; and the self-regulating adjustments you might make as a result of your overall situation.
There are different approaches to psychological therapy and all, regardless of their particular philosophy, aim to help people overcome emotional and behavioural problems. Some approaches, such as psychodynamic therapy, focus extensively on early life events. Other approaches, such as counselling, don’t seek to actively help people change but rather, offer support and an opportunity to talk.
Although some people find these and other approaches helpful, contemporary research suggests that the two most effective psychological approaches to the most common problems (such as depression and anxiety) are cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), also known as interpersonal relationship therapy. Both these approaches have been found to be very effective, and usually require no more than about 10 sessions with an appropriately trained and qualified psychologist.
Interpersonal Relationship Therapy (IPT)
IPT focuses in relationships with other people and how your thoughts, feelings and behaviour is affected by your relationships with others. It is effective in the treatment of depression, eating disorders, depression during and after pregnancy, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy has been a documented form of therapy for over two hundred years. Hypnotherapy is based on a ‘guided meditation’ and alters the way the brain interprets messages. There is no real minimum or maximum number of sessions you need to attend, as it depends on the individual.
Many psychologists and psychiatrists are also trained in hypnotherapy and can use this treatment where appropriate.
Neuro-Lingusitic Programming (NLP)
NLP is not generally a model of therapy that is used on its own, but usually as an additional way of working with other types of therapy.
NLP is based on finding out how someone does something well and then repeats the process with a goal of ‘excellence for all’. Based on a number of operating principles, NLP theory states that ‘we either already have all the resources we need or we can create them’ and ‘modelling successful performance leads to excellence; if one person can do it, it is possible to model it and teach it to others’.
Meditation and Mindfulness
There are different types of meditation however most share the practice of sitting quietly and focusing your mind on either your breathing, a mantra (a repeated phrase) or an object. When thoughts arise you are encouraged to gently note them without judgement and let them drift away while returning your attention to the breath or object.
Check out our guide and helpful apps to help get you started.
Acupuncture is a popular aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine which uses herbal medicine, nutritional remedies, massage and exercise to rebalance physical and emotional energy.
Acupuncture needles are placed along points which are believed to help release the flow of chi and restore health and balance in the body.
During acupuncture the body releases endorphins which are natural chemicals known to relieve pain, relax muscles and increase feelings of wellbeing.
Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic, essential oils which are extracted from plants such as flowers, leaves, roots or bark. It is thought that each oil has a different therapeutic property which can affect the nervous system and brain chemistry and is absorbed through massages, baths, inhalation or lotions.
Certain oils are linked to symptom relief for a wide variety of mental and emotional symptoms such as depression, grief, stress and insomnia.
People who practice energy healing believe that in addition to a physical body we also have an energy body.
This is made up of individual chakras which are responsible for different aspects of our emotional and physical wellbeing. When there is emotional or physical disharmony in a person these chakras become blocked or unbalanced. It is believed the practitioner acts as a channel and harnesses universal healing energy to unblock and balance the chakras. They do this by placing their hands above the body at certain positions throughout a treatment. One of the most well-known forms of energy healing in England is Reiki. Anecdotally many people report a strong sense of relaxation during the treatment and a feeling of wellbeing afterwards.
Western Herbal medicine
This the use of plant extracts to treat medical problems including mental illness. The most well-known herbal medicine for treating mental health problems is St. John’s Wort (hypericum). There is strong clinical evidence that St John’s Wort is just as effective as anti-depressants in mild to moderately severe depression and has fewer side effects.
It is a very good idea to seek the advice of a doctor or herbal medical practitioner before taking any form of natural or herbal medicine.
Is based on the theory that an illness can be treated by using tiny amounts of a substance which causes similar symptoms to it. Homeopathy is also based on the principles of treating the whole person. A consultation would involve a thorough assessment of a person’s lifestyle, personality and physical health. Treatment is then selected based on all the information gathered so two people with the same symptoms may not receive the same treatment.
Massage is a form of structured and pressurised touch, or kneading, of the body which is generally used to relax and relieve muscle pain. There are many different types of massage ranging from Swedish massage which involves light strokes aiming to relax the muscles which relieve tension to Shiatsu which, like acupuncture, believes that putting pressure on certain points will help to balance a person’s energy. Often massage is combined with aromatherapy which is thought to enhance the well-being effects of the session.
Massage is widely available and very popular as it often has an immediate effect of reducing tension.
Yoga is form of meditative and physical exercise which has its roots in India as a spiritual practice. Movements and postures are performed slowly and coordinated with an emphasis on controlling the breath. Types of yoga vary based on how much emphasis is placed on aspects such as the physical exercises or the breathing. It’s claimed that yoga can enhance all aspects of a person’s wellbeing included mental health by reducing stress and improving mood.
A system of natural medicine which focuses on treating the underlying causes of disease by assessing and treating the patient as a whole. There is a strong focus on helping the body to return to optimum health via its own healing mechanisms.