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4 'Strange' Types of Therapy You Probably Don’t Know About

Therapy comes in many forms, and some of them can seem kind of weird.

When you think about going to therapy, you may imagine sitting on a couch crying your face off, talking about your childhood or expressing your anger and resentment toward your parents. Emoting is a part of most therapeutic processes, but mainly psychodynamic therapy or psychoanalysis. Most people are familiar with the psychodynamic model of therapy because it’s the most common. However, there are a variety of different kinds of therapies that people might not be aware of, and some of them may sound pretty strange. Here’s a list of five types of therapy you probably don’t know existed!

1. Sand Therapy. This form of therapy, which involves playing with mountains of sand, was created in the 1950s by a psychologist named Dora Kalff. She combined a bunch of different therapeutic modalities to create it. Kalff worked with pediatrician and child psychologist Margaret Lowenfeld. Together, they developed “sand-tray intervention.” Kalff practiced a form of therapy based on Karl Jung. She was trained as a Jungian therapist and incorporated Eastern philosophical principles into her work. She guided her clients and helped them play with piles of sand to understand their rich inner world. The pretend world the client constructed gave Kalff further emotional insight into what the client was coping with. Sand therapy was a way to understand how a person related to the world around them and help them to develop better coping strategies for their emotions.

2. Puppet Therapy. Puppet therapy is a modality used to help children express their feelings in the form of play. A puppeteer and occupational therapist Ingrid Lagerqvist developed this form of therapy. Lagerqvist was able to combine puppetry and counseling to create puppet therapy. She showed a marked interest in puppetry as a young person. She was the child of Polish puppeteers. Currently, puppet therapy continues to help children express themselves and communicate their emotional states. It’s used as a means of expressing subjects that are hard to handle such as trauma or abuse. Lagerqvist died in 2003 in Austria, however, puppet therapy lives on.

3. Primal Therapy. Primal therapy helps people get to the source of childhood trauma. It sounds pretty standard, right? It’s therapeutic and even cathartic, but it can look strange from the outside looking in. It’s a form of treatment based on the book “Primal Scream,” written in 1970 by Dr. Arthur Janov. He helped clients get in touch with the deep, painful experiences of their childhood, where the origin of their trauma began. At times, patients would cry uncontrollably or scream at the top of their lungs. Primal therapy could be intense but was also successful in helping people let go of the intense pain.

4. Gestalt Therapy. The Empty Chair Technique.” I can personally attest to this form of treatment as I’ve sat in a therapist’s office speaking to an empty chair pretending it was someone I was angry at or a part of myself. Sure, it’s weird and if someone walked in on me speaking to a chair, I’d be embarrassed, but it feels freeing. Fritz Perls developed this technique to help clients express hidden feelings. Maybe they were afraid to confront a sibling or their boss. They’re able to pretend to speak to that person and role-play what they want to say to them. I’ve done this technique when I was terrified to talk to someone who was bullying me at work or speak to my brother about how he hurt my feelings. It’s weird, but it worked for me!

Despite how “strange” these therapies sound, they can help people cope with severe emotional issues. There are many forms of therapy you may have never encountered but can help us. Remember, there are so many ways to get help. You can try seeing a therapist in your area or find a competent online therapist to cope with your mental health issues. You never know what kind of therapy will work for you until you try!

Getty image by simonapilolla.

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