What Are Some “Traditional” Mental Health Therapies and How Can They Help Me Heal at the Cellular Level?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Addiction Recovery January 5, 2024

What Are Some “Traditional” Mental Health Therapies and How Can They Help Me Heal at the Cellular Level?

There is a traditional Hawaiian word that represents the concept of “balance:” PONO. This idea of balance should be considered critical when it comes to recovery because balance within a recovery plan is what helps to ensure whole-body healing at the cellular level. Now, this balance must include modalities from all of the different thoughts regarding recovery and modalities regarding treatment, including “traditional” mental health therapies.

The Importance of Comprehensive Mental Health Care

Now, the fact of the matter is that “one-note,” “cookie-cutter” treatment rarely works in the long run. Recovery plans must be both individualized and comprehensive if an individual is going to have a chance to get to the root/core causes of their issues and avoid a potential relapse. Also, relapse is much more common than many people may think.

According to the article, New Findings on Biological Factors Predicting Addiction Relapse Vulnerability, “It has long been known that addictive disorders are chronic and relapsing in nature. Recent estimates from clinical treatment studies suggest that more than two-thirds of individuals relapse within weeks to months of initiating treatment. For 1-year outcomes across alcohol, nicotine, weight, and illicit drug abuse, studies show that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within 1 year of treatment.” These are significant statistics and are emblematic of why creating comprehensive recovery plans is so important.

It is also important that each individual be seen as such. In many instances, recovery centers only focus on an individual’s diagnosis rather than what makes them and their situation unique. The key is to have a comprehensive intake process that, yes, takes into account a diagnosis but also takes into account details such as occupation, family dynamics, potential past traumas, and recovery goals. Only when this happens can an individualized recovery plan that includes multiple mental health therapies be created.

Healing at the Cellular Level With Multiple Mental Health Therapies

The good news is that addiction and mental health care and wellness have advanced beyond what many people thought possible in the 20th Century. No longer is there complete speculation about certain psychological processes and ways that addiction and mental illness manifest in the mind and affect the body. Yes, of course, there are advances every day, but we all benefit from the already vast amount of treatment knowledge that is now available.

With this abundance of knowledge also comes an abundance of treatment options and modalities. Now, while there are so many treatment avenues to travel down, in order to be more concise, one can focus on four. These are experiential treatments, psychedelic treatments, holistic treatments, and “traditional” mental health therapies.

What Exactly Are “Traditional” Mental Health Therapies?

Essentially, “traditional” mental health therapies are ones that the Western world has done enough research on and seen enough positive results to deem them evidentially effective. One quick note: the word “traditional” is initially put into quotes because the idea of these treatments being traditional only applies to the Western world and Western medicine. For the sake of balance, one does not want to diminish the importance of Eastern recovery methods (however, from now on, the quotations will be dropped).

Traditional mental health therapies are also often referred to as “evidence-based” therapies because there has been enough research, there have been enough studies, and enough positive evidence of effectiveness has come to light to refer to them as such. Now, while there are many evidence-based therapies in the realm of addiction and mental health, there are a certain number that stand out. These are psychodynamic therapy, humanistic therapy (with some sub-categories), interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and, perhaps the most prominent, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Traditional Mental Health Therapies: Understanding Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT is considered by many in the mental health and addiction realm to be the “standard bearer” of psychotherapy. This is because many of the other psychotherapies that exist today share some form of concept that comes directly from CBT. So then, what exactly is CBT?

CBT brought about an entirely new way of thinking about human thoughts and introspection. According to the article, The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses, “Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) refers to a class of interventions that share the basic premise that mental disorders and psychological distress are maintained by cognitive factors… These maladaptive cognitions include general beliefs, or schemas, about the world, the self, and the future, giving rise to specific and automatic thoughts in particular situations. The basic model posits that therapeutic strategies to change these maladaptive cognitions lead to changes in emotional distress and problematic behaviors.”

Essentially, by changing the way that individuals think about themselves, CBT helps them change the way that they think about the outside world. Also, CBT helps individuals change the way that they think about how they interact with the outside world and how they can do so in a way that brings mental positivity rather than mental strain and anxiety. For people with addiction and mental health issues, these changes in perspective can help them mitigate (potentially even eliminate) the behaviors that are causing them discomfort. Similar changes happen with the DBT, which was created directly from the work that was done in the field of CBT.

Traditional Mental Health Therapies: Understanding Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT is also one of the “giants” in the field of psychotherapy. Initially, the therapy was created to help parasuicidal women with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but it has now been shown to help people struggling with many forms of mental health disorders and addiction.

DBT has really expanded since its inception. According to the article, Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Current Indications and Unique Elements, “The patient populations for which DBT has the most empirical support include parasuicidal women with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but there have been promising findings for patients with BPD and substance use disorders (SUDs), persons who meet criteria for binge-eating disorder, and depressed elderly patients. Although DBT has many similarities with other cognitive-behavioral approaches, several critical and unique elements must be in place for the treatment to constitute DBT. Some of these elements include serving the five functions of treatment, the biosocial theory and focusing on emotions in treatment, a consistent dialectical philosophy, and mindfulness and acceptance-oriented interventions.” 

It is these aforementioned elements that really set DBT apart from CBT and other types of psychotherapies. These elements help individuals improve life skills, better structure their daily lives, improve motivation and the way they see themselves in the world, engage in conversation and communicate their needs to others, and get out of the cycle in which their psychology enforces their negative behaviors. Another psychotherapy that can help with these elements is psychodynamic therapy (though it tends to have more critics).

Traditional Mental Health Therapies: Understanding Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy also comes out of the school of thought initiated by CBT. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), “Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in the client’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are the client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior. In its brief form, a psychodynamic approach enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves in the need and desire to abuse substances.”

Psychodynamic therapy works when an individual simply talks naturally to a psychoanalyst. The psychoanalyst can then decipher where disruptive thoughts may be lying under the surface and thus causing the negative behaviors associated with mental illness and/or addiction. Many may recognize this as the school of thought that was brought about by Sigmund Freud. However, it has advanced significantly since then to become a very well-respected traditional mental health therapy.

Also, psychodynamic therapy tends to work on a more extended basis and involves more work over time. This is not necessarily the case with other types of psychotherapies, including interpersonal therapy.

Traditional Mental Health Therapies: Understanding Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy is a therapy that focuses on how individuals interact with their family and friends. The goal is to improve communication within these dynamics as well as increase an individual’s self-esteem.

Now, interpersonal therapy is generally shorter than most psychotherapies and happens in three phases. According to the article, Interpersonal Psychotherapy: Principles and Applications, “The initial phase requires the therapist to identify the target diagnosis and the interpersonal context in which it presents… In the middle phase of treatment, the therapist uses specific strategies to deal with whichever of the four potential problem areas is the focus. This might involve appropriate mourning in complicated bereavement, resolving an interpersonal struggle in a role dispute, helping a patient to mourn the loss of an old role and assume a new one in a role transition, or decreasing social isolation for interpersonal deficits.” 

Then, according to the aforementioned article, “In the last few sessions, the therapist reminds the patient that termination is nearing, helps the patient to feel more capable and independent by reviewing his or her often considerable accomplishments during the treatment, and notes that ending therapy is itself a role transition, with inevitable good and painful aspects.” This transition process is critical because it helps individuals progress beyond the initial therapy process and use what they have learned in real-life applications. Humanistic therapy can also help with these applications.

Traditional Mental Health Therapies: Understanding Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy uses the concept that the individual is best suited to understand their own needs and experiences. This can help them to see where they are causing their own emotional distress and how they can make personal decisions to change it. Also, this can be particularly helpful for individuals struggling with addiction and addictive behaviors.

Humanistic therapy is also often referred to as “person-centered therapy.” According to the peer-reviewed write-up, Person-Centered Therapy (Rogerian Therapy), by Doctors Yao and Kabir, “Person-centered therapy operates on the humanistic belief that the client is inherently driven toward and has the capacity for growth and self-actualization; it relies on this force for therapeutic change. The role of the counselor is to provide a nonjudgmental environment conducive to honest self-exploration.” Then, “the therapist attempts to increase the client’s self-understanding by reflecting and carefully clarifying questions without offering advice.”

Now, just as all of the other traditional mental health therapies mentioned, humanistic therapy tends to be more effective when paired with modalities from other schools of treatment thought. This includes the school of experiential therapy.

Utilizing Traditional Therapies With Experiential Therapies

Experiential therapy works very much as its moniker would have one belief. It is a therapy based on experience. These experiences help individuals understand how they feel when they interact with the world around them or other creative processes.

When these interactions happen, they can then take stock of their experiences and utilize them to make internal changes. A few types of experiential therapies include nature immersion therapy, art therapy, drama therapy, and one that is seemingly uniquely Hawaiian, surf therapy.

Understanding Surf Therapy

Surf therapy has been shown to be highly effective in treating issues of addiction and mental health. It is also a therapy that helps improve physical performance and stamina as well.

According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “According to research, spending time in nature, especially by water, reduces the production of stress hormones, cortisol, and epinephrine, reducing stress and anxiety. The calm sound of water and waves crashing against the shore also has a calming effect as well as the negative ions with which the ocean water is filled. This suggests that water sports may be particularly suitable for improving mental well-being.” Surfing, of course, fits that category perfectly.

Also, Exclusive Hawaii Rehab may be the perfect place to participate in surf therapy. A mere 15-minute jaunt from our luxury recovery center is Honoli’i, one of the best surf breaks in all of Hawaii. Another unique offering we have is ketamine therapy.

Understanding Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine therapy is relatively new to the recovery scene, but it has already been showing many positive results. However, few treatment centers are able to offer it. This makes Exclusive Hawaii Rehab an excellent choice for those who wish to engage in it. 

According to the 2022 article, Ketamine for the Treatment of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Comprehensive Systematic Review, “In the past two decades, subanaesthetic doses of ketamine have been demonstrated to have rapid and sustained antidepressant effects, and accumulating research has demonstrated ketamine’s therapeutic effects for a range of psychiatric conditions.” When used in tandem with other traditional mental health therapies, the benefits of ketamine therapy can be even more life-changing. Another practice that can do this is therapeutic yoga.

Understanding Yoga for Recovery

Yoga has been around for over 3,000 years. However, it was only in the last half-century or so that it began to be used specifically to treat issues of mental illness and addiction.

According to the International Journal of Yoga, “Regular practice of yoga promotes strength, endurance, and flexibility and facilitates characteristics of friendliness, compassion, and greater self-control while cultivating a sense of calmness and well-being. Sustained practice also leads to important outcomes such as changes in life perspective, self-awareness, and an improved sense of energy to live life fully and with genuine enjoyment.” This yogic mindset can be extremely helpful when one wants to open up and engage in other types of mental health therapies.

Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we believe wholly in practicing PONO when it comes to healing at the cellular level. This is why we offer so many treatment options, methods, and modalities.

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we also practice KULEANA, which is a sense of responsibility and sacred duty. Our sacred duty is to help our clients recover now and in the long term, and that is exactly what we do every day.

“Traditional” (often called “evidence-based”) mental health therapies are still some of the most effective, proven, and studied forms of recovery treatment. Traditional types of therapies like humanistic, psychodynamic, and interpersonal therapies can be a great foundation for recovery. But, they can be significantly more effective when used in tandem with experiential, holistic, and other therapies like ketamine therapy. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with mental illness, addiction, or both, we can help you heal at the cellular level. For more information about the benefits of adding traditional evidence-based therapies to a recovery plan, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200