Please see below selected recent therapy-related change.
- What's New? - Therapy
- What's Changing? - Anxiety
- What's Changing? - Depression
- What's Changing? - Fear
- What's Changing? - Health
- What's Changing? - Listening
- What's Changing? - Self-Esteem
- What's Changing? - Wellbeing
- Although many mental health treatments are available today, they continue to involve a great deal of guesswork. For instance, if someone is feeling down and sad every day or has lost all interest in the things they usually like (the symptoms of major depression), their GP will usually either offer them an antidepressant drug or put them on a waiting list for psychological therapy. These treatments are somewhat effective: each treats depression successfully in about half of cases. The problem is, there is currently no way to tell whether someone would be more likely to get better after therapy or after drugs (or a combination of the two).
- HBR pointed to an op-ed in the New York Times Sunday Review affirming that expressive writing can heal us. A certain kind of guided, detailed writing can not only help us process what we’ve been through and assist us as we envision a path forward; it can lower our blood pressure, strengthen our immune systems, and increase our general well-being. Expressive writing can result in a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression; improve our sleep and performance; and bring us greater focus and clarity.
- Carl Jung died 60 years ago this month. In the spring of 1957, at the age of 84, Jung set out to tell his life’s story. He embarked upon a series of conversations with his colleague and friend, Aniela Jaffe, which he used as the basis for the text. At times, so powerful was his drive for expression that he wrote entire chapters by hand. He continued to work on the manuscript until shortly before his death in 1961. The result was Memories, Dreams, Reflections - a peek behind the curtain of Jung’s mind, revealing his wisdom, experience, and self-reflection.
- The Future Today noted that psychedelic therapy is becoming more visible in mainstream media and culture, e.g.
- How to Change Your Mind, a 2018 book by Michael Pollan, was a watershed moment, a serious journalist talking openly about the benefits of psychedelics in major media outlets, from the New Yorker to Time to The Late Show.
- The Psychedelic Trial was a BBC documentary that explored the implications of a major study at Imperial College.
- Lamar Odom Reborn was a documentary detailing the former NBA player’s recovery from addiction using psychedelic medicine.
- The modern world can present the body as a machine that just needs to be regularly exercised. However, it is a remarkably sensitive organ in which a lot of our pain and hope is stored and that we need to interpret and handle with subtlety. This impact of our body upon our mind is something that needs to be explored as it is easy to pay attention to one more than the other and to ignore the crucial balance between the two.
- During anxious times, it perhaps makes sense that companies offering therapy to the masses would receive a a lot of interest and headlines. But as noted in The Cut, the apps’ patient-as-consumer approach means they often don’t live up to their promises, for therapists or users.
- According to Psyche, most people learn how to regulate their emotions when they’re growing up. But for some, the strategies they adopt are unhealthy or unhelpful. One theory about why this happens is the biosocial theory, from a treatment called dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which argues that some people are born with a higher level of emotional sensitivity: they have stronger emotional reactions to things, take longer to get over those intense feelings, and generally deal with a higher level of emotional pain (eg, they experience more anger, sadness, shame or anxiety). While this emotional sensitivity (the ‘bio’ part of the theory) isn’t uncommon and isn’t a problem in and of itself, when we combine this with a problematic environment (ie, the ‘social’ part), things can become difficult.
- Covid transformed the way many people work, including those who look after our mental health. For much of lockdown, psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists had to venture into the world of online therapy, tackling their clients’ issues via a computer screen, and often the experience has felt less than ideal for all those involved. But throughout much of lockdown, another option has become increasingly popular: combining therapy with the benefits of the great outdoors. The British Psychological Society (BPS) issued guidance on this, advising its members on how best to take their work outside, addressing issues such as confidentiality and the absence of a boundaried space. Yet many therapists ditched the four walls and a couch approach a long time ago and have been working out in nature for years. For example, psychotherapist Beth Collier is founder of the Nature Therapy School, which offers training to psychotherapists who want to practise outside.
- Mental health often isn't addressed until someone reaches a state of crisis, much like someone not eating well or exercising until they've had a heart attack. California-based startup Coa aims to flip that convention and get people to take a proactive approach to mental health through regular maintenance and tune-ups. The company launched inearly 2021 after its founders first trialled the concept by hosting mental health pop-ups across the U, offering one-off emotional fitness classes for USD 25, and three themed eight-week series for USD 240. While classes are led by licensed therapists, Coa stresses they aren't for clinical needs.
- Psychotherapist Megan Devine, creator of Refuge in Grief and author of its portable counterpart, It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand found that, when studying how people navigate intense grief - the loss of loved ones to violent crime, suicide, disaster, infant death, and other abrupt catastrophic traumas - our most intuitive impulses about helping those whose suffering we yearn to allay - by cheering them up, by reorienting them toward the lighthouses in their lives amid the darkness - tend to only deepen their helpless anguish and broaden the abyss between us and them.
- While an esimated 173 million people, or 12% of the population of China, live with a mental health disorder, the lingering stigma of treatment means that only one in 10 of them end up seeking it. The country also lacks a robust infrastructure for mental health services: China has four times fewer trained mental health professionals than the global average, and most are concentrated in major cities.
- However, China’s top health body said it planned to roll out counselling to people who have recovered from Covid-19.According to the official China Daily, social workers, volunteers and therapists will be made available to former patients, to help understand any physical, mental or financial help they might need. Their data will be held on local medical databases, under a system that “emphasises the importance of protecting their privacy”. Local health centres will also offer mental health assessments “based on informed consent and voluntary participation”. In China, more than 80,000 people have recovered from Covid-19 since the beginning of the year. Mental health hotlines have been open since as early as January. But mental health is a major concern in China. The official Xinhua news agency estimated last year that one in 10 Chinese people had mental health problems. That is 140 million people.
- Medium reported on Denice Clark, PhD, a therapist based in Atlanta, who has been providing walk-and-talk therapy professionally since 2008. She’s well known as Dr. Walk and Talk (her company is called Sole to Soul Therapy), and a few months after the pandemic hit, therapists started contacting her about how best to offer this kind of therapy to their clients. “Therapists and clients alike are getting tired of online therapy,” she says, “so walk-and-talk seems to be the one way they can meet in person while feeling safe in the midst of the pandemic.” It makes sense that this type of therapy is on the rise: There’s strong evidence that spending time with other people outdoors is relatively safe, plus research shows that eye contact can increase anxiety levels, which suggests that walking side by side with a therapist (with masks and appropriate distancing, of course) could feel more comfortable for some people.
- Recent decades have seen an increasing interest in the healing and therapeutic potential of nature and interest in the potential of "greencare" interventions for the benefit of mental health. The field of nature based therapies is expanding in line with this interest. A 2020 book, Nature and Therapy, outlined the specific processes involved in conducting counselling and psychotherapy sessions in outdoor natural environments.
- According to the Financial Times, the highest value for money comes from treating mental illness. There are many reasons for this. Empirically, mental illness accounts for more of the misery in our society than any other factor, including poverty. Under Covid, mental illness, became on average nearly 10 per cent worse for those already mentally ill, especially for women and young people. Excellent psychological treatments exist for most mental illness, and they are not expensive. But they reach fewer than one in five of those who need them. Finally, the economics. Mental illness is the main illness of working age, accounting for half working-age morbidity, and half of all disability and absenteeism. When people recover, they go back to work, come off benefits and pay more taxes.
- The emerging field of financial therapy may have little to do with a particular money problem, but is instead often concerned with more subconscious issues that is causing stress. The root of a person’s relationship with money is very deep. “Money is a window to early trauma,” according to psychotherapist Judith Barr, in Connecticut, who focused on finance after recognising the deep effect that financial stress was having on her clients. “There have been very few times that I have worked with anyone on their money relationship where that hasn’t shown up.”
- An app can track mental health via your phone usage. It gauges users’ emotions by analysing factors such as voice, keystrokes, and amount of sleep. The hope is it will give mental health professionals a way to know how their patients are doing outside of a clinical setting so they can provide specialised treatment options.
- At Seattle’s Gottman Institute, relationship therapists attach wires to couples to assess their interactions. Now, the institute’s co-founders are spinning off this tech set-up into a startup, Affective Software, Inc. The new company offers an app-based, DIY solution, reports GeekWire. Couples upload videos of themselves (or their therapist does, with permission) to the app, which uses machine learning to assess the couple’s verbal and nonverbal behaviour. Couples can also choose to use fingertip sensors in conjunction with the app, to add additional data.
- A chatbot called Woebot provides an AI-fuelled version of cognitive behavioural therapy. The makers of Woebot say it offers a powerful new form of self-care to those dealing with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. The app free to use, and is working its way towards full FDA approval; a randomised, controlled trial by Woebot and Stanford University found the app could help people with depression. By mid 2020, Woebot exchanged 4.7 million messages with people every week. Woebot and apps like it have been a crucial aid for millions during the pandemic. But even before lockdowns began, psychiatry and talking therapy services in most affluent countries were stretched beyond their limit.
- Big Think wrote about how ecotherapy (also referred to as nature therapy) has been proven to be effective and is used in various practices and cultures around the world. While we stroll around the forest, breathing in the fresh air, airborne chemicals like phytoncides (a chemical many plants give off to fight disease) are also entering our system. When this happens, the human body responds by increasing the number of natural killer blood cells (a type of white blood cell) which attack virus-infected cells. In one 2009 study, participants spent 3 days/2 nights in a forested area. Their blood and urine were sampled before, during, and after the trip. Natural killer cell activity measured significantly higher during the days spent in the forest and the effect lasted up to 30 days after the trip. The results of a 10-study analysis proved that both men and women have similar self-esteem improvements after experiencing time spent in nature, and the boost in mood particularly impacted men.
- CB Insights analysed how chatbots can transform the mental health industry — specifically, in supplementing cognitive behavioral therapy. These bots largely fell short of expectations during their initial hype thanks to their stilted responses, but as companies strive for efficiency via automation and deploy more advanced neural network algorithms, chatbots are now able to generate more empathetic responses than ever.
- Further reading:
- Further reading:
- Further reading:
- Further reading:
- Further reading:
- Further reading:
- Further reading:
- A mental therapy program using virtual reality, the Yes I Can project, was trialled in Hong Kong. Launched by AXA insurance, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Oxford VR, the program aims to help patients overcome their social fears. 250 people were recruited to traverse VR environments that reflect everyday scenarios like going to a cafe, a convenience store or a doctor’s waiting room. In those spaces they will confront and safely engage in social situations.
- Further reading:
- Woebot was developed a mobile app, giving one-on-one therapy and getting millions of messages a week. But Woebot isn’t a person – it’s a chatbot. It was invented and developed by a psychologist Alison Darcy and uses AI to guide users through a session, anytime, anywhere. The developers hope that Woebot will help break down the stigma of therapy and help provide services to underserved communities, though it is not clear what might happen when we remove the human therapist from therapy.
- For The School of Life, most of us have many vague feelings of hurt, envy, anxiety and regret, but for the most part we never stop to make sense of them. It’s too uncomfortable and especially difficult because we are so often busy and frazzled, hyper-connected yet a bit lonely. To really understand what we feel and think, we must turn away from distractions, common sense, and other people’s opinions. We need to develop intimacy with ourselves. Our un-thought thoughts contain clues as to our needs and our longer-term direction. Writing them out is key. Through writing, we recognise patterns to observe and, perhaps, outgrow.
- A founding idea of psychotherapy is that we get mentally unwell, have a breakdown or develop phobias because we are not sufficiently aware of the difficulties we have been through. Somewhere in the past, we have endured certain situations that were so troubling or sad, they outstripped our rational faculties and had to be pushed out of day-to-day awareness. Victims of our unconscious, we can’t grasp what we long for or are terrified by. Therapy is a tool for correcting our self-ignorance in the most profound ways, argued The School of Life. It provides us with a space in which we can, in safety, say whatever comes into our heads. The therapist won’t be disgusted or surprised or bored. They have seen everything already. In their company, we can feel acceptable and our secrets sympathetically unpacked. As a result, crucial ideas and feelings bubble up from the unconscious and are healed through exposure, interpretation and contextualisation. We cry about incidents we didn’t even know, before the session started, we’d been through or felt so strongly about.
A huge amount of suspicion still surrounds the business of seeking psychotherapy. To go to therapy is routinely associated with being somehow ‘disturbed’ or ‘ill’, self-indulgent or ‘weak’. And yet having therapy, far from evidence of mental immaturity or sickness, is perhaps a good sign of sanity, for it indicates that one possesses an unusual capacity for introspection and openness to vulnerability.
- Some 45 million people live with mental illness in the US alone, but only 43% get the treatment they need. Now there’s an app for that, although it’s not yet clear if chatting online delivers the same life-changing benefits as traditional therapy. Quartz noted that talk therapy has its limits, but that for many people, including those with conditions like depression and anxiety, it can help. As the number of people who suffer from mental illness has risen starkly, virtual therapy might be a way to bring the benefits of talk therapy to those who find the face-to-face version cost-prohibitive or simply inconvenient.
- The School of Life believes that self-analysis can work because, as we reflect, we let our sadness take its natural, due shape. We dwell at length on the wounds. We give space to our nostalgia. There may not be an immediate solution to the sorrows, but it helps immeasurably to know their contours and give ourselves a chance to square up to them. Our pains need a hearing. The more we think, the more our fears, resentments and hopes may become easier to name. We may become less scared of the contents of our minds. We may grow calmer, less resentful and clearer about our direction.
- Further reading:
- Modern life can keep us so busy that we forget (or avoid) the essential need to stop and check in with ourselves in order to take care of our own emotional lives. The School of Life believex that consulting a psychotherapist should be as accessible and as normal as developing a career, getting help for a physical problem, or going to the gym to get healthy. Just as we take care of our bodies and physical health, a vital element of self-care is devoting focused time and energy to exploring and understanding our thoughts and feelings.
- Quartz argued that good design can help ameliorate the stigma around going to therapy. Chic lighting and furniture create an environment patients want to return to.
- For The School of Life (TSOL), what is distinctive about therapy is what it is a tool for: it is an invention to help improve the way our emotions operate. It has been devised to correct the otherwise substantial difficulties we face understanding ourselves, trusting others, communicating successfully, honouring our potential and feeling adequately serene, confident, authentic, direct and unashamed.
- Therapists know, adds TSOL, that inside every adult there remains a child who is confused, angry, hurt and longing to have their say and their reality recognised. They appreciate that this child has to get to know itself again and will want to be heard, perhaps through tears or near-incomprehensible mutterings, which might be at odds with the surface maturity and self-command normally associated with the grown-up sitting in the therapeutic chair.
- Mexican healthcare company Docademic launched Cool Emotions, a free app that uses AI and cognitive behavioral methodology to provide therapy, noted Trend-Watching. Launched in July 2018, Cool Emotions is designed to support young Latin Americans with issues such as depression, teen pregnancy and bullying. The app helps patients identify their problems, as well as educate them, propose solutions and motivate them to act. Therapy sessions on the app, with live therapists, last approximately 15 minutes. Patients that keep up with their sessions are rewarded with Docademic’s MTC cryptocurrency, which can then be exchanged for anything from medicines to concert tickets.
- Psychotherapy is one of the most valuable inventions of the last hundred years, argued The School of Life (TSOL), with an exceptional power to raise our levels of emotional well-being, improve our relationships, redeem the atmosphere in our families and assist us in mining our professional potential. But it is also profoundly misunderstood and the subject of a host of unhelpful fantasies, hopes and suspicions. Its logic is rarely explained and its voice seldom heard with sufficient directness. TSOL shared 20 small essays on its key concepts.
- Psychotherapy won’t work for everyone, adds TSOL: one has to be in the right place in one’s mind, one has to stumble on a good therapist and be in a position to give the process due time and care. But that said, it believes that, with a fair wind, psychotherapy also has the chance to be the best thing we ever get around to doing.
- In 2016, Adam Phillips, one of Britain's most renowned psychoanalysts and literary figures, joined RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor for a conversation about life, the universe, and everything (and maybe a little Freud as well). See also:
- Having some psychotherapy is for The School of Life just about the most significant and interesting thing one could do to improve your chances of contentment - in relationships, at work, and with friends and family.