New Trends And Unconventional Techniques In Counselling Psychology: An Overview – Part 2

Being an evolving field, psychology and its many schools often transform itself to suit the modern day human necessities. It is not an unknown fact that more often than not, patients or clients dread their therapy sessions and absence or irregularities in attending therapy sessions is a drawback in benefitting them. Psychologists and researchers have come up with innovative and creative alternatives to traditional therapy techniques to solve this issue and to possibly make therapy an interesting experience for both the therapist and the client. In our previous article, we spoke about several such therapy techniques such as music therapy, DMT, Pet-assisted therapy, sand play therapy, psychedelic therapy, and bibliotherapy. In this article we will discuss another set of unconventional and modern methods of psychotherapy.

Adventure therapy is a form of therapy in which the therapist takes a group of clients on an adventure such as hiking, rowing, rafting, rock climbing. sailing, camping, sky diving or any other similar recreational activity while also incorporating cooperative activities and games. This technique also known by wilderness therapy has proven to be a very effective form of group therapy for patients of depression, anxiety disorders, phobias and other psychologically stressful problems. Increased confidence and self-efficacy, decreased anxiety and rumination, enhanced self-awareness, resilience, distress tolerance, problem-solving skills and cognition and improved physical health were some positive results that were discovered in those who underwent this therapy.
hiking therapy

To be perfectly apt to the modern world, psychologists have also come up with a therapy form known as Online or remote therapy also known as tele-mental health applications. This technique too was quite often debated about as it operates mostly via the internet or mobile facilities which include telephone conversations, Skype calls and similar techniques, which gives rise to the question whether this may be as effective as communicating with the patients in person. However its wide-spread availability and ease of access has paved way for its survival among other conventional therapy techniques. These might also be in the form of hotlines for ex for suicide prevention, and also a technique that can be accessed from home for patients of advanced age or disabilities.

Chess therapy is yet again another interesting form of therapy of which the origin dates back to the 9th century AD Baghdad where it was first applied by Persian polymath Rhazes. It consists of chess games between the therapist and client or between clients to form stronger connections between them. Its ultimate goal is the confirmatory or alternate diagnosis and consequently, better healing of patients. Use of tactics and strategies in board games as metaphors in real life to help patients think clearer is key to the technique.
chess therapy

Francine Shapiro developed a new type of psychotherapy known as EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR therapy has become a more common treatment in recent years as a treatment option for people suffering from anxiety, panic, post traumatic stress disorder or trauma. It also helps people with autism find new ways to perform their daily tasks. It's helpful to retrain the brain's neurological connections and improve hand-eye coordination, depth perception, motor skills, eye contact, and other activities. In this technique the most common method is concentrating on a dot that moves across a screen in varying speed levels and patterns for a recommended period of minutes.

Feminist therapy is another innovative technique which focuses mainly on gender and the particular challenges and stressors that women face such as oppression, discrimination, bias, stereotyping and other factors that threaten their mental health. This could be practiced in private and in group or community settings such as women’s health clinics, LGBTQ community organizations, and domestic violence centers. It helps empower clients and to make them understand the social factors that contribute to their issues, to discover and claim their unique identity and personal strengths to better their own lives and those of others around them and affected by them. Although initially the focus was only on women now any person or group that has been marginalized such as minority ethnicities, LGBTQ community, immigrants and refugees, the differently abled, people in poverty, victims of sexual abuse, incest, people with eating disorders, and body image issues etc. too can seek their help.
Feminist therapy

These new and unconventional have proven to be quite effective and progressive in many Western and developed countries. Can these techniques be initiated in Sri Lanka? Although challenging, with support from resource persons, education, universities and the government, these techniques may prove to create many career opportunities for those in the field of psychology in Sri Lanka and lead this field towards progression.

This article was sent in by Nalanga Hettiarachchi. She is a Temporary Lecturer at Department of Psychology, University of Peradeniya. You can reach her via Email.

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