8 types of Mental Health Therapy that work for Stress

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While it’s true that moderate stress levels can be good – as they can motivate us to work towards essential goals – high stress levels can complicate one’s life, making everything seem overwhelming, heavy, and challenging. What’s more, unmanaged stress can lead to severe conditions such as depression and increased anxiety

The good news is that there are several types of mental health therapy that can help manage stress and prevent things from worsening. These are 8 of the best therapeutic approaches that can assist one in dealing with this mental and physical tension: 

1. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 

Based on identifying negative thinking patterns that can contribute to high stress levels, CBT is one of the most celebrated types of mental health therapy that works with this problem. 

Standard CBT techniques include grounding, journaling, role-playing, guided discovery, and gradual exposure. Working with a CBT therapist can help you recognise and change maladaptive thought patterns, develop specific tools for dealing with them, improve your emotions, and create and implement new, helpful behaviours.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy can be used short-term or long-term, depending on one ‘s needs. As such, it is suitable for helping one get through traumatic events and can also be used to treat chronic mental health conditions. 

2. Behavioural Therapy 

While it’s similar to CBT, behavioural therapy has a different goal: it focuses on one’s changes in behaviour. It is more focused on your thoughts rather than on your actions. 

Those who undergo behavioural therapy learn that their actions are always dictated by their previous behaviours. Thus, changing how you respond to stress now can assist you in creating new patterns that will help you deal with stress later

This type of therapy is the most efficient with long-term stress triggers, such as phobias, general anxiety, traumatic events, and ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). 

3. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) 

An increasingly popular approach to solving issues related to high stress levels, acceptance and commitment therapy assists individuals in improving their quality of life by moving past challenges. 

ACT is about making peace with how things are – it focuses on accepting what is rather than trying to change it. The goal of the therapy is to teach one to commit to action that will improve their condition and accept things that are out of their control. 

Regarding stress, ACT allows an individual to acknowledge and accept that a situation is stressful and that some things about it cannot be changed. Instead, they need to search for something that can be changed and, in that way, improve the overall situation.  

4. Exposure Therapy

Traditionally used to treat anxiety disorders, PTSD, and phobias, exposure therapy is yet another excellent technique for coping with stress. It can be especially beneficial to people suffering from mental health conditions that cause them to avoid particular places, people, objects, and situations. 

If you often practise avoidance to stay away from more stress, exposure therapy can be of great help. After all, remember that avoidance is never a good long-term solution – it will make you feel even more uneasy and render anxiety and stress worse. 

In exposure therapy, therapists gradually expose clients to triggers they would otherwise avoid. The goal of this is to, over time, help a person come to terms with their fears and not be as stressed about them. 

5. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR and its cousin MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) belong to a category of unique approaches that assist individuals in coping with general life challenges, including everyday stress. 

The idea behind mindfulness is that many people “live in their heads” and neglect the world around them, which, more often than not, can lead to high stress levels. Practising mindfulness can help people anchor themselves to their senses, i.e. ground themselves in the “here and now”. 

Participants in mindfulness-based therapies such as MBSR and MBCT learn yoga, meditation, and essential information about various practical stress-management tools. All of these can significantly ease symptoms of anxiety and reduce stress. 

6. Positive Psychology for Stress

A relatively new approach to therapy, positive psychology recognises and expands characteristics that help individuals thrive. As it builds and reinforces perspectives and skills focusing on what works rather than what is wrong, this mental health therapy can benefit those suffering from stress. 

When a therapist incorporates this approach while working with a client, they assist the person in increasing stress-reducing outlooks and abilities such as gratitude and optimism. Moreover, positive psychology can help clients recognise and utilise some of their strengths that could help keep anxiety at bay. 

Although it’s still rarely used compared to the techniques described above, this therapeutic approach is a legitimate field of psychology that has shown excellent results so far. 

7. Art/Music Therapy for Stress

An exceptionally creative approach to mental health therapy, art therapy for stress involves painting, drawing, creative journaling, collage-making, and discussing creations that can reduce stress by leading to personal insight.

Similarly, music therapy for stress can create positive changes in emotional health through purposefully creating or listening to music. This differs from your typical music-listening sessions that sometimes do and sometimes don’t lead to relaxation. This type of therapy is led by a trained music therapist and involves specific music interventions. 

Both types of therapies help clients by inducing a state of relaxation and calmness. They lower cortisol levels in one’s body and lead to a better mood by reducing symptoms such as sleep issues, chest pain, or headaches. 

8. Autogenic Training & Biofeedback for Stress 

Designed to assist individuals in comprehending their stress reaction, autogenic training and biofeedback are interventions that help you understand what’s going on in your body when you’re feeling stressed. 

In biofeedback treatment, therapists use a variety of instruments – all of which are noninvasive – to measure muscle activity, brain waves, breathing rate, and heart rate and rhythm. By doing so, they help clients identify these bodily sensations and learn how to deal with them (i.e. calm the body’s stress) by teaching them various relaxation techniques. 

In autogenic treatment, individuals learn how to activate their peripheral nervous systems and successfully induce the relaxation response. This approach involves specific practices, techniques, and lessons and typically occurs over a half-year period.