Working together, improving lives

April 2024

What Types of Therapy are Available in Health and Social Care?

Therapy is an important part of the health and social care remit, improving the well-being of individuals by attending to their mental, emotional and social health. Functioning as advocates for well-being through meaningful conversations, therapists also make substantial contributions to the health of more than 1.5 million people in the UK; fostering resilience, promoting self-awareness and facilitating personal growth. However, not all therapists, or the therapy they provide, is the same. In today’s blog we’ll be exploring some of these different types of therapy found in healthcare.

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Psychological Therapy

When we think of therapy, the first image we convey is associated with open dialogue and discussion between an individual and their therapist. This view best reflects psychological therapy, commonly known as psychotherapy or counselling and is a form of collaborative therapy between a trained therapist and an individual. Its goal is to help people better understand their emotions, thoughts, feelings and behaviours and to navigate trauma or challenges in their life. Physiological therapy encompasses a wide range of techniques which are tailored to a persons specific needs or preferences, which can include; providing a safe and support environment where individuals can express themselves freely, openly and honestly, with therapists providing validation and encouragement, helping them to feel understood and more accepted. As well as equipping those in therapy with practical tools and strategies to better cope with stress management through methods of relaxation, facilitating positive personal changes to behaviour, identifying patterns that might be unhelpful and subsequently implementing new ways of thinking and operating.

There are also specific methods of therapy, the most common and frequently known being cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) which focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings and perception. In 2021, nearly 2 million CBT appointments took place in the UK, highlighting its contribution to a person’s health and wellbeing.

Those seeking psychological therapy or cognitive-behavioural therapy can find support by contacting their local GP, utilising online-support therapies as well as visiting the NHS website for additional information.

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Speech and Language Therapy

Speech and language therapy focuses on assessing, diagnosing and treating communication and swallowing disorders in people of all ages. There are an estimated 18,300 Speech and Language Therapists, commonly known as SALT’s, who will work with individuals of all ages experiencing difficulties with their speech, understanding language, using their voice, the fluency of speaking, general cognition and the ability to swallow. These therapists will use a range of techniques and strategies to facilitate rehabilitation and examples can include; augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for individuals with severe communication impairments, vocal techniques that improve the quality of voice and resonance as well as swallowing exercises with dietary modifications to support safety. Speech and language therapy is also greatly beneficial for neurodivergent individuals or those suffering with aphasia following a stroke.

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Art and Music Therapy

Art and music therapy are considered expressive forms of therapeutic care, using creative processes in order to benefit mental, emotional and physical well-being in environments that are safe and supporting, encouraging unique methods of communication. Specifically, art therapy is associated with painting, drawing or sculpting as a means of expression and exploration, allowing individuals to communicate their thoughts, feelings or experiences in ways that might be otherwise difficult to express verbally. Art therapy is particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with trauma, grief, anxiety or depression and contrary to popular belief, is not solely dedicated to children, teenagers and young adults.

Music therapy will often accompany art therapy as it also utilises creative processes to address cognitive and emotional needs. Therapists will use a variety of techniques including; listening to music, playing instruments and singing and song writing, which has the ability to enhance mood, reduce stress, improve social communications kills and facilitate expression and processing. Both art and music therapy are commonly found in all healthcare environments, including; hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centres and care and nursing homes.

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Some therapies do not focus solely on mental health and wellbeing, but physical functions too. Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy, focuses on improving and resorting movement to individuals who might be affected by injury, illness or disability. As many as 5% of the UK population regularly attends physiotherapy sessions with a dedicated therapist, who utilise a variety of techniques, exercises and modalities, including massage and joint manipulation and stimulation devices in order to help alleviate a person’s pain, increase mobility and enhance their overall quality of life. In healthcare environments, many care or nursing homes will have dedicated physiotherapists on-hand who will support individuals on a regular, typically daily or weekly, basis. Some will even go as far as to provide weekly social exercise classes, making physiotherapy more enjoyable too.

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Similarly, as with physiotherapy, hydrotherapy operates a similar level of physical support, in aquatic environments such as a dedicated hydrotherapy pool. Often an extension to physiotherapy, hydrotherapy is an increasingly popular method of care, and is particularly beneficial for those who might be older or overweight and have difficulty with their mobility. Hydrotherapy utilisies the physical properties of water, including temperature and pressure, allowing muscles to more easily relax, whilst supporting the weight of the human body, which eases pain and swelling around joints, improves blood flow and contributes to increased flexibility, making exercise easier and more comfortable. Other hydrotherapy facilities include; immersion baths, water jets and compresses.

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Rebound Therapy

Another form of physical therapy, rebound therapy is often referred to as trampoline therapy, utilising a trampoline to support individuals with various physical, cognitive or emotional conditions or disabilities. Rebounding can help to improve a person’s coordination, balance and strength, and is particularly beneficial for those with cerebral palsy, autism or muscular dystrophy. The motion of bouncing on a trampoline can also provide cardiovascular benefits, which helps to improve heart health, improve blood flow and promote muscle growth. Additionally, rebound therapy can support individuals with sensory processing disorders, helping them to regulate their senses more easily and improve focus and attention. Despite sounding like a fun activity, rebound therapy is only ever operated with a trained physical therapist and in the UK, it is common for rebound therapy to be done in a group or class setting with a number of individuals and therapists.

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As we’ve explored in this blog, there are a diverse range of unique therapies available to the public in health and social care, which utilise holistic and therapeutic approaches to mental and physical well-being, supporting a plethora of different unique needs or preferences. Whether it’s through traditional psychotherapy sessions, creative arts engagement or innovative physical interventions to support mobility, all therapy has the ability to empower individuals on their journey towards improved health and a better quality of life.