Expert-approved alternative forms of therapy for anxiety issues

Begin your journey of healing. 

20 April, 2023
Expert-approved alternative forms of therapy for anxiety issues

Think therapy and you’re likely to imagine sitting on a couch in an enclosed room, with water and tissues placed neatly by the side and your therapist listening to you and occasionally interjecting. Well, that’s one way it’s done, but there are various forms of therapy, and just like everything else, it works differently for people. Thus, it is best to explore different therapies until you find the right one. In case you are wondering where to begin, we have a list of expert-approved alternative forms of therapy that can help overcome various mental health issues. 

Art therapy 

Art ther

The world-famous artist Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” And art therapy can help you do just that. It is a discipline that integrates creative methods of expression through art and visual media with psychotherapy. We spoke to art therapist Lahar Mehta, to get the download. “Art-based therapy is not only one specific form of art—it includes a range of art forms like visual art, music, body movement, poetry, and theatre. People are often choosing expressive arts therapy over talk therapy because it is not only about sitting in front of a psychotherapist. It can work for various people with various kinds of situations—sex workers, students, migrant workers—the list is endless. Art therapy enables you to move forward in a more integrated way and equips you with the tools to express yourself and accept and deal with emotions.” Specific art-based therapy can include doodling, colouring, painting, and sculpting. It can also be integrated with music and dance. 

Music therapy


Music often speaks to the mind, heart, and body like nothing else does. The Cleveland Clinic defines music therapy as: “The clinical use of music to accomplish individualised goals such as reducing stress, improving mood, and self-expression.” Roshan Mansukhani has been a music therapist for over a decade now, and his process is simple. “I create structures of various existing music and relate it to thought process as exercises because everybody has got some kind of abstract, underlying stress. I help iron out those abstractions and baggage through music.” Who is it for? Anyone and everyone. Music therapy is for those dealing with stressors such as anxiety, anger, drug addiction, and more. “Music integrated with a holistic manner of counselling helps one address the triggers of discomfort which in turn irons out initial stressors and symptoms.” 

Dance movement therapy 


Dance can mean different things to different people. For many, it is a form of self-expression and a symbol of freedom, healing, and liberation. Dance movement therapy (DMT) is defined as the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance to support intellectual, emotional, and motor functions of the body. According to dance movement therapist, Renelle Snelleksz, “DMT has multiple layers of impact—it aligns the mind and body; relieves stress, tension, and trauma; helps relax and energise the mind and the body; and helps release negative emotions; among many other benefits.” 

If you’re wondering whether DMT is for you, here are some need-to-knows: “DMT operates on the principle that throughout life, a person's experiences, positive and negative, are stored in the body as memories. However, it's the negative life experiences that remain trapped in the body because they are either too difficult to process or too painful to talk about. Sometimes, they remain at a subconscious level and can greatly affect a person's mental and emotional health. For many people, talk therapy is challenging as sometimes it's hard to articulate what the real problem is. Through DMT, when a client begins to move, they instinctively tap into a deeper narrative relating to their childhood, or a specific life incident,” says Snelleksz. 

Equine-assisted therapy


For all the animal lovers out there, equine-assisted therapy also known as equestrian therapy might just be right up your alley. Animals, as we know, can offer incredible emotional support and can help navigate through challenging (even traumatic) emotional life experiences. Though not that popular in India, today the conversation surrounding equine-assisted therapy is definitely increasing. We spoke to clinical psychologist, Lydia Konya of the Calida Rehabilitation Centre in Karjat to understand more. "Equine-assisted therapy is an experiential mental health therapy. It involves the patient interacting with horses. It is known to be effective in treating mental health issues and also very effective in addiction cases. The process draws on factors such as discipline, patience and self-control." According to her, equine-assisted therapy worked wonders when complemented with talk therapy. "When we tell them (patients) something verbally it might not be effective, but when communicated whilst doing various activities it will be," she says. 

"How it works, is that this form of therapy is progressive, meaning there are levels to it. The first level includes minor interactions with horses—petting, grooming, and feeding them. There is always a horse trainer and psychotherapist present along with the patient. The next levels involve the therapist working various aspects such as perception, display of emotions etc. whilst learning how to take reign of the horse and ultimately learn to ride it." 
Who is it for? This form of therapy is typically for people with mood disorders, behavioural issues, anxiety and depression. 


According to the Cleveland Clinic, hypnotherapy is defined as "A heightened state of concentration and focused attention that allows you to be more open to suggestions to make healthful changes in various aspects of your life." And most of us here are likely to have certain preconceived notions about what hypnotherapy would be like. We spoke to hypnotherapist Sangeeta Shah to break those myths. "Hypnotherapy is a process in which we take the patient from a conscious state of mind to a subconscious one and we help to clean the subconscious mind if there are any underlying issues of the past or any kind of fears." 
Here's how it can help overcome issues such as anxiety: "The process of hypnotherapy is that in our day-to-day lives, our conscious mind absorbs everything that we are seeing around us for about an hour. When we are sleeping, it gets processed through a critical filter and gets stored in the subconscious mind as a good memory or bad memory. So, if there is any trauma or bad experience, it will go and stick and pops up as a trigger. So, in hypnotherapy, with the client's permission, of course, we take you down into the subconscious. But we as hypnotherapists cannot ethically put any thought into the client's mind. So, what we do is guide the client to clean up all the bad memories and remove them permanently." 

According to Shah, people often choose hypnotherapy to remove fears from their past and current life (as current as six months ago) because sometimes, we may not even be able to identify the triggers of our anxiety.