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  • Writer's picturecotswoldmeridianth

Help, I think I may need therapy - but which one?

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

That is a great question, there are so many out there. Here is an overview of the main approaches for emotional and some physical issues plus one or two newer treatments you may not have heard of…

Cognitive (talking) therapies

Counselling / psychotherapy

Counselling is more for specific issues and Psychotherapy takes a more long - term approach to making sense of ‘what happened’ and how the past impacts on the present. The knowledge that you will be working with a highly knowledgeable and trained professional who has undergone years of structured training and certification can give confidence. If you really want the benefit of being able to ‘be heard by’ and ‘tell your story’ to a trained and compassionate individual, mainstream talking therapies such as counselling or psychotherapy are the way to go. For more awkward or traumatic issues the risk of re-traumatisation by having to recount / relive the emotional event means progress can be slow, so these are less effective for severe emotional and long term issues such as PTSD but these cognitive approaches are well evidenced and widely recognised treatments and good progress can indeed be made. The self-awareness gained is powerful, however sustained commitment is needed. There are very many trained and competent professionals who can help you to make sense of things and come to terms with life events.

Energy Psychology

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

EFT is a fairly new treatment from the USA developed over the last 35 years. There is lots of evidence that it works and is much gentler than CBT counselling and psychotherapy with moderate to severe emotional difficulites, as sharing with the therapist in detail of past traumas is not always necessary. EFT belongs, like EMDR to the emerging field of energy psychology (which also includes TFT) both grew out of a blend of modern psychological thinking, neuro - biology and the ancient oriental theory of the Meridian system of energy pathways around the body, used in acupuncture and Shiatzu. The profession is regulated and monitored by EFT International (formerly AAMET International) The VA (Veterans Association) in the USA says it is effective for PTSD, and for complex multi layered traumas acquired over many years where the original trauma may not even be known or remembered, however EFT is not effective for psychosis. There is no homework / worksheets. Can be done face to face or online. Lots of scientific evidence it is safe, but there is more to know on just ‘how’ it works. With training, EFT can be learnt and be done safely on self in private in between sessions, or as part of self - care. EFT also combines very well with meditation and yoga.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing)

EMDR is a therapy, which emerged from a similar field of research to EFT. EMDR is effective for single, discrete instances of trauma and has now been recognised by NICE as an effective treatment for PTSD, anxiety and trauma from known upsetting experiences, however, it can be re-triggering and therefore needs to be used by a highly experienced practitioner and it, like EFT is fairly new.

Somatic / Cognitive therapies

CBT – is now recognised as a go - to talking therapy by mainstream medicine.

There is lots of evidence it’s effective for mild to moderate emotional and physical pain – CBT can be hard to include into one’s life as there will be homework to do and often painful and awkward issues need to be discussed and explored in detail, hence some people leave the program early. CBT is less effective for PTSD. There are lots of qualified NHS Practitioners around, but it can be tough going when addressing painful experiences, however CBT is very well evidenced and ‘mainstream’ and coping strategies developed can be useful.

Acupuncture - often works where conventional medicine doesn’t on emotional as well as physical issues, and at least 5,000 years old it has a long track record and a good evidence base. Acupuncture professionals too undergo rigorous and prolonged training and are also subject to regulatory standards with many running successful practice outside the NHS as well as doing work for the NHS. The NHS agrees it is safe and effective for many issues, if you don’t mind needles and can travel to see your practitioner. However close contact needed, so treatment may be interrupted during any future lockdowns.

Good luck whatever you choose.

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