You're not out of the norm if you feel like talk therapy, aka psychotherapy or counseling, isn't a super effective way to manage your mental health. The success of talk therapy varies from individual to individual, and can also depend on mental health diagnosis and severity. Some researchers think the effectiveness of talk therapy is somewhat exaggerated: a 2015 meta-analysis published in the journal PLOS One foundthat the efficacy of psychotherapy as a treatment for depression has been "overestimated" thanks to publication bias, though the study emphasized that it is still effective. Talk therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can be extremely beneficial to your mental health if you stick with it, and attend regular sessions. But, if you and your doctor are finding traditional talk therapy ineffective, there are a lot of mental health treatments that aren't talk therapy that may be worth exploring.
Dr. Steve Levine, a board-certified psychiatrist and founder and CEO of Actify Neurotherapies, tells Bustle that talk therapy may not always be the most effective or productive route for some people with severe mental health issues. "We tend to focus on the emotional aspects of these illnesses, but cognitive symptoms are some of the most disabling — difficulties with concentration, attention, and memory," he explains. "Recent research has shown us that depression and anxiety are neurodegenerative conditions, meaning that they are associated with structural damage in the brain. This can affect new learning, which is required to reap the benefits of talk therapy."
If traditional talk therapy isn't your thing, that doesn't mean you're out of luck. Modern day psychotherapy has been developing since the 1940s and is among the most widely-known forms of mental health treatment, but complementary and alternative medicine (aka, CAM) and alternative therapies are gaining in popularity in recent years. "Some therapies likeEMDR, art therapy, dance therapy, and more involve little to no talking. Therapy is a learning process, and everyone has a different learning style, says Dr. Levine. "For some, a 'talking cure' is just the thing, but others have difficulty articulating their feelings or processing verbal input. With the guidance of a specialist, these non-verbal therapies offer a way to access, express, and process these unspeakable feelings."
Unfortunately, many non-verbal therapy options, such as art therapy, have fewer practitioners because they're lesser-known forms of therapy. However, if you're interested in exploring some of these treatments, you can search for practitioners in your area or talk to your GP about them. Here are seven mental health treatments to try that aren't talk therapy, and the potential benefits of each.