Therapy 101 | Alternative ways to unburden your mind

Last week, I discussed traditional approaches to healing mental health issues. It can be expensive going from expert to expert, trying different therapies that may or may not help with your problems. Many conventional psychotherapeutic approaches expect you to work with them for many months and even years. 

Now, however, new cutting edge therapies have emerged that can help you faster, and often at a deeper level, than the old. Most forms of psychoanalytical psychotherapy try to sort out the problems of the past to make things better for the present and the future, and the 21st century newcomers to the field of mind medicine also believe the roots of much present pain lies in the past.

Having spent nearly twenty five years studying what’s on offer in order to speak from personal experience, I can say with confidence that many of the complementary 'mind' therapies really do work and in a far shorter period of time. 

Most of these therapies by-pass your conscious mind and work directly on the subconscious and unconscious, getting instantly to the heart of the matter. Sometimes memories that have haunted you for years, popping unexpectedly into your mind at the oddest moments with their attached uncomfortable emotions, will vanish once and for all, never to return. Or people that you have consciously avoided suddenly lose any hold over you. You will notice, months later, that you haven’t thought about them once, whereas in the past they constantly came to mind. They, and the emotions they triggered, have gone. The original ‘story’ hasn’t changed, just its hold on you has vanished forever.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), Hypnotherapy and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) all have scientific studies behind them and have been used successfully for many years.  Some of the more recent techniques don’t have sufficient solid research yet but don’t ignore them because, anecdotally, they are highly effective.

Everyone is different, and therefore some therapies work better for certain people than others.  The complementary mind therapy that you choose is important, but, as in traditional approaches, the skill of the individual doing the therapy is key, as is your connection with them (this is called the therapeutic alliance). It is their understanding and technique that varies the effectiveness of the healing you will achieve. There are many poorly trained and inexperienced therapists out there though, so always seek out professionals with experience, who belong to an accredited body.

You won't be able to judge until you have experienced these therapies for yourself. Never take anyone else's opinion blindly as fact, and try them for yourself until you work out what's right for you.

Emotional Freedom Technique

Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, combines positive affirmations with the tapping of acupressure points - either with your own hands or the hands of a therapist, and is a simple and effective way to release negative thoughts and emotions and deeply held emotional and physical traumas. It works seamlessly alongside any medical treatments you are receiving from your GP or surgeon and has no side effects of any kind.

The theory is that stress and trauma can prevent the body’s energy from flowing smoothly and build up blockages that eventually manifest as physical problems. Gentle tapping on specific acupressure points, however, vibrates through the meridians, clearing those blockages and bringing the body back to balance, releasing difficult thoughts and feelings at the same time.

It is an easy healing method to learn yourself as the same eight points are tapped in the same sequence, no matter what the illness or problem is, so you can work with a therapist or in the privacy of your own home. It can take as little as a single session to resolve even the most traumatic issue.  

Learning to tap could be the single most healing thing you can do to help yourself. Even clearing a single memory a day will take just a few minutes of your time. In a month you could be free from a life time of stress.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) helps to release disturbing memories and feelings, quickly and effectively. Research has shown it to be successful for treating PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) and that it works faster than most other trauma related therapies. Specific eye movements, tapping and sounds are used alongside thinking and feeling about a difficult issue, confusing the brain and effectively overloading your 'mind files' and wiping the memory banks that have linked that memory with those feelings. You will find that you can remember exactly what happened to you, but without the usual associated stress.


Hypnotherapy is an effective tool for clearing trauma and stress. An experienced hypnotherapist can rapidly release associations between specific issues and the events or emotions associated with them. The practitioner encourages you to enter a conscious, but deeply relaxed state, then makes verbal suggestions to you in order to help transform aspects of your behaviour, releasing anxieties, fears or phobias. You remain acutely awake and conscious of everything around you, yet your mind and body sink into a deeply relaxed state that enables the therapist to access and change deep habitual patterns in your subconscious and unconscious, simply and effectively.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT has been thoroughly researched and has a weight of evidence based science behind it. It is accepted by the medical profession as an effective treatment for depression, stress and anxiety and your doctor will be able to refer you directly to an accredited professional on the NHS. Six sessions are considered sufficient to change your patterns, and you may not need that many. 

CBT looks at how your thoughts and beliefs affect your feelings and your behaviour and gives you tools to change your behaviour by changing your self-limiting thoughts. It helps you see that thoughts you have habitually, for whatever reason, taken as truths, may in fact be neither fact or truth. Your therapist will look at why you think a certain way, and why, in doing so, you repeatedly reach a negative conclusion and will offer you other possibilities to put in their place instead.

Kinesiology or Muscle Testing

Kinesiology has had less scientific research carried out than other therapies but is an effective and painless way of healing acute stress and trauma. 

Trauma gets trapped in the physical body, as well as affecting the mind, and kinesiology can release it from both, restoring physical and mental health in the process. The therapist will test the strength or weakness of your body’s muscles to identify any specific problems or blockages. Sometimes when an area of your body is tested a particular memory or feeling will be triggered, indicating where the body has 'stored' that unresolved event. This is an example of what is meant by 'cellular memory'.

Sessions typically last an hour, and deal with one or several traumas or feelings at a time. A variety of techniques are used to unblock the body's energy system and release stress held there. After treatment, the areas that tested weak will re-test strong, and the trauma will have been released. Typically, weeks afterwards, you will notice that something that had been constantly in your thoughts, perhaps for years, has vanished entirely from your mind. And once dealt with, they never return.

How you go about unburdening your mind of the weight it has probably been carrying for years is entirely up to you. But to get entirely well, those difficult feelings and memories must be released. That fact is non-negotiable, so please don't try to fudge it and think that juicing and a healthy diet alone will do. It simply won't.

Are you hoping for the easy option? That the emotional trauma that has sat there all this time can continue as it is, buried deep inside? If you really want to be fully well, I challenge you to go the full distance and really reboot your health. Be brave and take the necessary steps. Make that first call, and then follow through. You will find yourself lighter and happier in a matter of weeks and I suspect will wish you had set yourself free long ago.

Life Coaches and Personal Coaches

Life coaches do exactly what it says on the packet. They coach you to find solutions in areas of your life where you are struggling. They sort out your work/life balance and help you with achieving personal goals. They look at what's going on at work (Executive Coaches who focus solely on your business life also exist), in your family, and wherever else you are stressed. Life coaches motivate you: to feel better, to deal with bad habits, to resolve difficult relationships.

You can go to a life coach at any stage - when you are entirely well; as a preventative measure at a time when you feel that stress is building; or when you feel life has got on top of you and you can no longer cope.

Personal coaches are similar to life coaches. They offer support and a shoulder to lean on, giving you the opportunity to reflect and look carefully at what has brought you to this point in your life and decide where you are going from now.

Where most mind therapies focus on the past, coaching looks to the future. You can sign up for a few sessions, or decide you need an on-going back up for regular support and encouragement. Coaches do not diagnose. They deal with current problems and help you to make changes where they would be beneficial. They look for decisions, actions and measurable results and goals.



Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, founder of one of the UK's largest breast cancer charities, Breast Cancer Haven. With over twenty years' experience in holistic health, Sara's digital dose of wellness teaches you to listen to your body, tweak your lifestyle and improve your health. 

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