What’s the alternative?

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The pandemic plunged many of us into financial duress or isolation-induced emotional turmoil. As we begin to repair the damage done, we’re reminded that our mental health is fragile, and needs to be looked after in much the same way that we go to the dentist to fix a tooth. While some health issues manifest themselves physically and others take their toll silently, the overall result is the same: they chip away at our quality of life.

Seeking can feel intimidating: not only is there the question of finding the right therapist or treatment specialist, you also have to consider what type of therapy will work for you. The traditional one-on- one psychologist set-up has proven effective for many, but it isn’t for everyone and, refreshingly, it doesn’t have to be. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to mental wellbeing, and with the help of a medical professional, you can explore what works on an individual level, combining various methods to fit the variety and severity of what you’re feeling. While your first point of contact for a mental health concern should be a doctor who can assess your immediate needs, treatments previously considered “alternative” are coming to the fore and could prove a useful complement to more traditional treatment.

Mindfulness coaching

Mindfulness coaching helps train the brain to keep one’s attention in the present, avoiding unnecessary energy spent on factors beyond your control – leading to a more peaceful, empowered state of mind. This coaching encourages one to find the ritual in routine, introducing practices like yoga and meditation into everyday life, while identifying anxiety triggers and tackling these with a practical, solutions-based mind-set. It’s a help to many with situational anxiety or depression, and can be useful in addressing a variety of other issues, from technology addiction and focus to stress and panic disorders.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

A short-term psychotherapeutic treatment, CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps one to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns negatively influencing behaviour or emotions. These thoughts can contribute to emotional difficulties, depression and anxiety, but by using practical techniques such as journaling, role-playing, relaxation exercises and mental distractions, CBT works to intercept and change them.



Often associated with the myth that hypnotists can take over the minds of their subjects and control their actions, hypnotherapy has earned an unfair reputation. In reality, it’s proved an effective form of treatment for conditions from PTSD to quitting a bad habit. A hypnotherapist guides patients into a meditative state (in which they’re awake and in control of their actions), and works to connect the conscious mind to the subconscious, tackling repressed emotions or memories that often sit at the root of one’s issues.


We’ve long known the benefits of acupuncture for physical ailments, but less about how the needle- based treatment can be harnessed to improve mental wellbeing. According to the traditional principles of Chinese medicine from which acupuncture stems, mental health disorders can cause a disruption in the flow of energy throughout the body. Practitioners of acupuncture say that these energetic imbalances have both mental and physical manifestations, from sleep disturbances to nausea and headaches. Acupuncture targets pressure points on the body to engage the central nervous system, releasing chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord and brain, stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities.

Reiki healing

Reiki is a traditional Japanese healing technique based on the idea that we’re guided by the same invisible flow of energy that controls our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Practitioners of reiki believe that when that energy flows freely, we can access unknown reserves of power, but when we experience blockages – said to be caused by negative thinking, unhealed trauma or an overload of stress – we don’t function optimally. A Reiki healer will hover their hands above the body, with the aim of opening up pathways, guiding the flow of energy and often bringing emotions to the surface.

Mental health issues are best managed when professionals work together to meet the unique needs of each individual, but it’s reassuring to know how many forms of treatment there are available, and how we can tailor these to serve our minds and bodies in the best way possible. — Rosie Goddard

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