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If you visualize wellness systems as a tree, then therapy would be the trunk of that tree and the branches would be specific treatments. Treatment is done only when the body starts showing symptoms whereas therapy is done to maintain the health of the body. Treatment is the cure to a specific disease whereas therapy is the rehabilitation that comes afterwards.

Therapy is concerned with the overall health and well-being of a person. There are different therapies - like pharmacotherapy, beauty therapy, psychotherapy, and mind-body therapy - that help in maintaining the state of well-being in a person.

Most of these therapies provide not only physical relief but also take care of mental health. For instance, beauty therapy not only enhances the beauty of a person but also instils a sense of confidence in them. Similarly, mind-body therapy, which includes yoga and meditation, works on both the physical and mental aspect of a human body.

  1. Types of therapy
  2. Beauty therapy
  3. Psychotherapy
  4. Physiotherapy
  5. Occupational therapy
  6. Body therapy
  7. Mind-body therapy
  8. Therapies for cancer treatment
  9. External energy therapy
  10. Alternative medicine therapy

Types of therapy

Pharmacotherapy, also known as drug therapy, is the therapy where medications are used to treat a disease. These medications are well researched and tested before being prescribed to patients. There are various factors that affect pharmacotherapy:

  • Method of drug delivery: The drug can be delivered to a patient in different ways. 1) Orally, in the form of a pill or capsule 2) In liquid form, as syrups or drops and 3) Via injections into the veins, muscles or tissues. The method of delivery depends upon the condition of the patient as well the condition being treated. For instance, people living with diabetes need to inject insulin into their skin whereas an antipyretic drug like paracetamol is given orally to a person with a fever.
  • Selection criteria for drug therapy: The selection of any drug depends on the efficacy, safety, route of administration, cost and dose frequency. It also depends on the age, sex, medical history, ethnicity and genetic factors of the person getting the drug.
  • Benefits of drug therapy: Drug therapy helps in fighting various infections and life-threatening diseases of the body. Drugs help in providing better and faster relief for minor illnesses like the common cold as well as major illnesses like tuberculosis. Pharmacotherapies also play a major role in dealing with addiction. Drugs like methadone help with opioid addiction, bupropion help with smoking addiction and acamprosate help with alcohol addiction.
  • Disadvantages of drug therapy: Some drugs are very strong. They act harshly on diseases, yes. But they also have side-effects. In most of the cases, the side-effects are temporary and go away as soon as the drug treatment ends.

Read more: How to quit smoking

Beauty therapy

Beauty therapy is one of the therapies that focus on maintaining both the physical and mental well-being of a person. Beauty therapists offer treatments like applying make-up, eyelash and eyebrow shaping, colouring, manicures, pedicures, removal of unwanted hair, aromatherapy and body massage that help the person look and feel better.

There is a wide range of beauty therapy procedures which include:

  • Hair removal treatments: Some people find their body hair unpleasant and want to get rid of them. Your beauty therapist can help you with various hair removal treatments like plucking, shaving, waxing and even laser hair removal treatments.
  • Skin treatments: Some skin treatments like sclerotherapy (injecting a salt solution into the veins), collagen injections (protein-rich injections), laser skin surfacing and skin camouflage (in case of skin with burns and cut marks) can be done by a beauty therapist, according to the need of the person.
  • Facials: The beauty therapist can use a wide variety of ingredients like creams, oils and gels for the facial. The facial basically involves cleansing of the skin to get rid of dead skin cells, use of a toner to unblock pores and moisturiser to rehydrate and brighten the skin.
  • Nail treatments: Nail treatments like manicures and pedicures help in maintaining the hygiene of the nails of hands and feet. They also prevent fungal infections and ingrowth of the nails.
  • Body treatments: Your beauty therapist may provide you with body masks containing seaweed, salt, mud, clay, herbs, fruits, oils and plants which leave your skin moisturised naturally. Other body treatments include body scrub, body massage and body wraps which help in detoxification of the body and also relieve the muscular tension.
  • Hair treatments: From washing and pampering your hair to styling and colouring it, beauticians can provide a range of hair care services for dry hair as well as oily hair.
  • Botox: This beauty therapy involves injecting botulinum toxin into the skin which reduces the signs of ageing like wrinkles, dark spots and fine lines.
  • Teeth whitening: Beauty therapy like bleaching of teeth can help reduce the pigmentation of the teeth, making them brighter.
  • Make-up application: Some people feel that makeup makes them feel like themselves, only prettier and more confident. Beauty therapists can help you learn how to enhance your beauty with makeup.
  • Massage therapy: Of course, there are specialists who can give you a range of massage experiences like a deep-tissue massage. However, your beautician can also help you relax, reduce stress, and help with your beauty, hair and skincare with massages like a head massage, foot massage or face massage.

Read more: Ingrown nails: symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, prevention

Psychotherapy

Mental health is as important as physical health. Psychotherapy refers to therapy used for the treatment of emotional issues and mental health conditions. There are various psychotherapies that help in maintaining the overall mental well-being of a person.

  1. Behavioural therapy
  2. Psychodynamic therapy
  3. Cognitive therapy
  4. Humanistic therapy
  5. Holistic therapy
  6. Dance therapy or movement therapy
  7. Art therapy
  8. Drama therapy
  9. Psychosexual therapy
  10. Family therapy and couple therapy

Behavioural therapy

Behavioural therapy focuses on learning behaviour. Some life experiences can totally change the behaviour of a person. For instance, if a past memory of being bitten by a dog comes up every time you see a dog, the result could be a conditioned fear of dogs. This type of therapy believes that learnt behaviour in response to past experiences can be unlearnt or reformulated. 

  • Classical conditioning theory: Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, discovered a technique called classical conditioning theory. The idea is that with conditioning, behaviour can be modified. To prove his theory, Pavlov ran an experiment: he rang a bell every time he gave his dogs food. Over time, they became conditioned to expect food when they heard the bell. So the next time he rang the bell, even without food, the dogs started drooling because they associated the sound with food.
  • Desensitising: The idea is that when done in the presence of a trained therapist, repeated exposure to the cause of your phobia may help to desensitize you to it, lower your anxiety and make you more confident.
    This might sound harsh, but professionals believe it can teach some people the skills to overcome their fears and reshape their behaviour and way of thinking to help them deal with stressful situations.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is also known as depth psychology as it focuses on knowing the unconscious and past experiences of a person in order to understand their current behaviour.

The therapist may help the patient bring up memories that he or she has repressed to protect themselves from getting hurt by painful thoughts and emotions. The point is to find the cause of a behaviour that the patient wants to change and then work towards changing it.

For instance, someone who had an abusive parent might find it difficult to trust others and form intimate relationships as an adult. They might fear abuse or violence from their partner or friends, similar to what they got from their parent(s). A psychodynamic therapist can help such a person realise why they are behaving in the way they are as a grown-up and also helps them overcome mental obstacles to forming healthy and fulfilling relationships in the future.

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy believes that with optimistic thoughts in mind, a person can feel happy and healthy overall. The therapists target irrational thoughts, behaviours and emotions and change them to rational and reasonable ones. 

The therapist pays attention to connections between the developed behaviour pattern, childhood experiences and social pressures on the patient.

Humanistic therapy

Humanistic therapy focuses on helping a person realise their self-worth and their ability to make rational choices. It emphasizes being aware of the situations in your life and accepting responsibility for yourself.

The therapist works on helping the person realise that they can bring about change in their life through self-actualisation, self-regulation, responsibility and choice.

The therapist also encourages the person to explore the external world and be open to experiencing the social, cultural and political impact of that on their life.

Holistic therapy

As the name suggests, holistic therapy focuses on the overall aspect of life. This means it targets the mind, spirit, and body. In this approach, the therapist helps the person realise that their life is an integration of their physical body, their mind (brain function), emotions, and spirit. This approach has been effective in treating different types of anxiety disorders, stress issues, and trauma-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dance therapy or movement therapy

Dance therapy allows the person to express their thoughts, emotions, agony and pain in terms of dance or movement. Dance therapists focus on the fact that the movements should reflect the thinking process and feelings of the person.

Dance therapists believe that the nonverbal language of dance is as important as verbal language and thus, they use both forms of communication in the therapeutic process.

Dance or movement therapy can be practised individually with the therapist or in groups.

Art therapy

Art therapy is used to reveal the patient's inner emotions through creative expression. Art therapy involves the use of paint, chalk, crayons, sand and clay.

The art therapist has complete psychological knowledge of the creative process and the emotional traits of different art materials. For instance, he or she can find cues to the inner emotions of the patient through the characters in their artwork, the size, shape, space, texture, shade and colour of the artwork.

The therapist may also use toys to represent people, animals and buildings and ask the patient to arrange them in a controlled space. This helps the therapist to know more about the life and people associated with the person getting the therapy.

Drama therapy

Drama therapy uses theatrical techniques like role-playing, puppetry, mime, ritual, storytelling, voice work and other techniques to promote creativity, imagination and personal growth.

Drama therapy gives the opportunity to individuals or groups to express their personal and social problems in a creative environment.

The drama therapist encourages the person to have confidence and belief in themselves. Drama therapy also instils the sense of self-awareness and the strength to express in people.

Psychosexual therapy

Psychosexual therapy focuses on relieving the symptoms of sexual problems that have originated due to physical, psychological, emotional or situational issues. People having differing levels of desire for sex (such as low libido), arousal disorders (example: persistent genital arousal disorder), erectile difficulties (like erectile dysfunction), issues with orgasm or ejaculation and pain associated with sex (dyspareunia), can consult a therapist for psychosexual psychotherapy.

This therapy usually works along with behavioural therapy, medical treatment and sexual education.

Read more: Spermatorrhea or Dhat syndrome: symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment

Family therapy and couple therapy

Family therapy focuses on resolving family conflicts and problems and improving family relationships. The first thing the therapists try to instil in the mind of each family member is that the problem lies within the family as a whole, rather than with a single person within the family unit. Couples therapy is a type of family therapy.

  • The therapist aims to engage the family members in constructive activities that makes them realise how much they value and love each other.
  • The family therapist would also counsel the family members to help them realise the strength and the wisdom of the family unit as a whole. 
  • The therapist also makes the family realise that every member of the family should respect each individual’s different viewpoints, beliefs and views.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is a method of treatment that incorporates recovery, prevention of injury, and promotion of complete well-being. Physiotherapy targets and treats the underlying physical trauma that would have been caused due to any injury, with the help of movement, exercise, manual therapy, education and advice.

Physiotherapy helps in restoring, increasing and maintaining physical strength and endurance in patients. Physiotherapy has been used for the management of respiratory (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), cardiovascular (chronic heart disease), neuromuscular (muscular dystrophy) and musculoskeletal (sports injuries, workout injuries, repetitive strain injuryarthritis, slipped disc) systems of the body. 

Physiotherapy does not provide immediate relief but gradually improves the range of motion. It usually takes four to five weeks for complete treatment. The duration of the therapy can increase or decrease depending on the severity of the injury.

There are certain types of therapies done in a physiotherapy session.

  1. Manipulation and massage
  2. Physical exercises
  3. Electrotherapy
  4. Hydrotherapy

Manipulation and massage

Physiotherapists apply controlled movements to loosen injured joints and tissues. These small repetitive motions applied to the joints are known as mobilisation techniques.

For manipulation, the physiotherapist applies forceful single movements to the concerned joint, so that it is pushed past its limits to loosen up and get back to its original position. This can be painful but helps in regaining the original attachment of the joint. 

Physiotherapists also do manual massage to relieve pain and reduce swelling.

Physical exercises

Physiotherapists help people regain their ability to do physical activity. These physical exercises help the person increase their range of motion, strengthen their muscles and enhance balance and coordination.

Electrotherapy

In electrotherapy, the physiotherapist uses electric current or impulses to stimulate the affected nerves. Types of electrotherapies include:

  • TENS: The transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a technique where a machine delivers mild electric current to the specific nerve that sends the pain signals to the brain. This therapy relaxes the nerve, thus relieving the pain.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound involves the transfer of high-frequency sound waves to deep tissue injuries, where the waves improve the blood circulation and increase cell activity. This helps in speeding up the healing process.
  • Laser therapy: Lasers are used to reduce pain and muscle spasms in the injured sites.
  • Short wave diathermy: In this technique, an electromagnetic field is generated which provides heat to the injured tissues of the body. This helps in reducing inflammation and pain.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is one of the therapies where a natural environment is created for better treatment. Hydrotherapy is carried out in a pool, where the water has a temperature close to body temperature (37 degrees Celsius).

The physiotherapist then helps the person perform exercises in the water. While performing the exercises, the weight of the water pushes against the body, thus improving breathing and blood circulation. It also helps in relieving pain and strengthening muscles.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy helps people with a physical disability, long-term illness, learning disability and mental health problems perform daily tasks without any help. They help patients become independent so that they can prevent illnesses and develop good health.

The occupational therapists help people with learning disabilities to get involved in house activities like cooking and cleaning. The therapists also encourage them to use public transport as it would instil a sense of independence and confidence in them.

The therapists also help old aged people to rekindle their desire for living and meeting new people.

Body therapy

Humans have believed in the healing powers of touch since ancient times. This type of therapy uses touch to treat discomforts and illnesses of the body. Manual manipulation can help in treating various illnesses like muscle spasm, slipped (herniated) disc and nerve entrapment. 

Some of the body therapies include.

  1. Chiropractic adjustment/manipulation
  2. Massage therapy

Chiropractic adjustment/manipulation

Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a highly controlled procedure where the chiropractor uses his/her hands to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order to reduce pain and restore joint function.

Chiropractors manipulate the body's alignment to reduce pain and enhance function. This therapy relieves stress from the body and allows it to heal itself. 

Various studies have shown that chiropractic manipulation is significantly more effective than standard treatments in the prevention of hallux valgus (bunion), lower limb muscle strain and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).

Massage therapy

Massage therapies target the injured area of the body and help in alleviating pain, stiffness and spasm. Massage therapies are basically performed for back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis and headache.

Massage therapies also help to manage pain in the cases of fibromyalgia. Massage therapy, with or without aromatherapy (the use of essential oils), helps in reducing anxiety and fatigue.

Mind-body therapy

A healthy mind stays in a healthy body. Various studies have shown that people heal better when they have better emotional and mental well-being. There are several therapies which not only help in healing the body but also provide peace to the mind.

  1. Yoga
  2. Meditation
  3. Hypnosis

Yoga

The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word Yuj which means to yoke or bind. Yoga is said to have been developed around 5,000 years ago in India, with a view to maintaining the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being of a person.

Yoga is often interpreted as a method of spiritual discipline, as a regular practice of yoga helps discipline the mind and body. 

Depending on the level of concentration required and different techniques, there are various forms of yogas like the raja yoga, karma yoga, Japa yoga and Gyan yoga.

Meditation

Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. It is a technique which helps in calming your mind and redirecting your thoughts. Meditation is an effective way to relieve stress and promote self-awareness.

Various forms of meditation like spiritual meditation, mindful meditation, movement meditation (Taichi), focused meditation, visualisation meditation and chanting meditation (the sound of "om") help people become more mindful, focused and peaceful.

Hypnosis

Hypnosis, also called hypnotherapy, is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration. The trance-like state is a state where a person is awake but in a subconscious mind. The person may respond to the commands of the person who has induced the hypnosis.

Hypnotherapy claims to treat anxiety, phobias, sexual dysfunction, addictions and behaviour disturbances. It can also be used to help people with sleeping issues, learning disorders, relationship issues and low confidence.

Therapies for cancer treatment

Cancer is a collection of diseases, which occurs when some faulty cells (known as cancerous cells) start dividing continuously and spread into the healthy surrounding tissues. If diagnosed in the early stages, cancer can be cured. There are various therapies which are used to treat cancer.

  1. Chemotherapy
  2. Radiation therapy
  3. Hormonal therapy

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a kind of cancer treatment that involves the use of drugs to kill and stop the growth of cancerous cells. It is still considered the first line of treatment for different types of cancers including blood cancer and breast cancer

One of the major disadvantages of chemotherapy is that it not only kills fast-growing cancer cells but it also kills healthy cells around cancer. It mostly affects the cells of the mucous lining (the cells that are seen in the lining of the mouth and intestines) and the cells of the hair. 

The most common side effects that are seen in every chemotherapy patient are mouth sores, nausea and severe hair loss.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, is a treatment in which high doses of radiations are used to kill the cancer cells and shrink the size of a tumour. High dose radiation damages the DNA of the cancer cells, thus preventing them from multiplying. 

There are two types of radiation therapy: external beam radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy.

  • External beam radiation therapy: In this type of therapy, the radiation comes from a large machine that aims at cancer. The machine does not touch the body but moves around the person, thus delivering radiation beams from different directions. It is a localised treatment, which means that it targets the specific part of the body that is affected by cancer. For instance, if a person has lung cancer, the radiation will only be given to the chest and not to the whole body.
  • Internal radiation therapy: In this type of radiation therapy, a source of radiation (solid or liquid) is put inside the body.
    • Brachytherapy: When the source used is solid, the treatment is called brachytherapy. The source of radiation can be in the form of seeds, ribbons, or capsules that are placed in the body, in or near the tumour. 
    • Systemic therapy: When the used source is liquid, the treatment is called systemic therapy. The source of radiation is either taken orally or through veins or through injections. In this mode of treatment, the radiation is allowed to travel in the blood throughout the body, exploring and killing cancer cells.

Hormonal therapy

Hormonal therapy, also known as endocrine therapy, is used to slow down or stop the growth of those cancers that use hormones to multiply. It is majorly used for the treatment of breast cancer and prostate cancer that grow with the help of hormones.

Hormone therapy works in one of two ways: it either blocks the body’s ability to produce hormones or decreases the effectiveness of the hormones in the body. 

External energy therapy

There is a belief that an exchange of energy can help a person heal better. Practitioners believe that external energies from objects or other sources directly affect a person's wellbeing. 

  1. Electromagnetic therapy
  2. Reiki

Electromagnetic therapy

Electromagnetic therapy is a safe and non-invasive treatment which has been used for the management of several conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. In this therapy, low-frequency electromagnetic fields are created to transfer electric stimulation to the living tissues. These electromagnetic fields can penetrate the various layer of skin (epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue), tendons, muscles and bones. The various types of magnetic field used in electromagnetic therapy are:

  • Static or permanent magnetic fields
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) 
  • Low-frequency electromagnetic fields 
  • Pulsed radiofrequency fields
  • Millimetre waves 
  • Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs)

Reiki

Reiki is a Japanese therapy which means universal life energy. It is a type of energy healing. In this therapy, the person is asked to lie down on a table fully clothed. The practitioner then lightly places their hands on or over different areas of the head, limbs and torso, making different shapes with the hands, for two to five minutes. It is said that once the hand of the practitioner becomes warm, it means the energy transfer at that spot is done. The session lasts for 60-90 minutes. 

Reiki is said to be a great tool for stress reduction and relaxation. Reiki does not claim to cure a disease or illness but assists the body to create an environment for better healing.

Alternative medicine therapy

There are various other medicinal therapies which are different from conventional allopathic medicine. Having originated thousands of years ago, these therapies claim to treat all sorts of diseases.

  1. Ayurveda
  2. Homoeopathy
  3. Traditional Chinese medicine

Ayurveda

The word Ayurveda means "The Science of Life". It is said to have originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the entire universe is a combination of the five elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. 

The principle of Ayurveda says that Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the combinations of these five elements that can be seen in every living organism on Earth. Vata stands for the energy of movement, Pitta stands for the energy of digestion and metabolism, and Kapha stands for the energy that forms the body’s structure.

Unlike allopathy, Ayurveda does not focus on disease, but on enhancing the body’s ability to fight against the disease.

Homoeopathy

Homoeopathy was first discovered in Germany around 250 years ago. It is based on two unusual theories:

  • The disease is cured with medicine which produces similar symptoms
  • The lower the dose of the medicine, the greater its effectiveness

The homoeopathic medicines are derived either from plants like red onions, belladonna, poison ivy, arnica or from the minerals like white arsenic or from animal sources like crushed bees.

Homoeopathic medicines are available in the form of sugar pellets which are supposed to be kept under the tongue. They are also available as tablets, ointments, drops, gels and creams.

Traditional Chinese medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine is said to be thousands of years old, and it has not changed much over the centuries. There are various therapies included in traditional Chinese medicine, some of which are:

  • Tai Chi: An ancient Chinese martial art form, Tai-Chi is a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints. The movements have poetic names like “white crane, spreads its wings”. It is often compared to Yoga and has wide-ranging benefits like stress reduction, blood pressure maintenance and increase in muscle definition.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a therapy in which a trained acupuncturist penetrates the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles at some specific points. The needles are then moved gently by the expert or are attached to some electrical stimulator. This helps in relieving pain in that specific area. 
  • Cupping: Cupping is a part of traditional Chinese medicine that focuses on reducing pain and inflammation along with increasing blood flow and providing a sense of complete well-being. It is also known to provide relaxation and massage to the deeper tissues of the body. In this therapy, the expert uses warm glass jars to create suction on certain points of the body. The vacuum created by the jars draws the skin and muscles up. 
  • Herbal therapy: Chinese herbs have claimed to treat many medical problems like stroke, heart disease, mental disorders, and respiratory diseases (bronchitis, the common cold). Herbs that are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine are cinnamon, ginger, ginseng, astragalus, vitex and many more.
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