When Life Gets to Be Too Much

The concept of stress is not a new one. It has been used as a term since the 14th century. No matter who you are, what culture you are from, or what you do, you will come face-to-face with stress. It is almost as natural as breathing in today’s complex and fast-paced world.

The changing economic times have increased the presence of stress like a living, breathing entity in many lives. At home, at work, dealing with your children or spouse, and certainly addressing the ever volatile financial state, stress can raise its ugly head. You may think you can deal with it on your own. In fact, for a while, you may be able to do just that. Yet, eventually, as it continues to build and negatively affect all the different aspects of your life, you may need to turn to therapy to help you relieve, deal with and eventually eliminate stress. How you do so will depend upon who you are and what methods may prove to be the most effective.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy can be an effective means of addressing stress. In a non-pharmacological intervention, the therapist addresses the underlying conceptual issues of the situation. It is based on the idea that individuals respond to the perception, the internal representation of the stressful situation rather than the actual situation. The focus is on specific problems and the individual’s own feelings, thoughts and related concepts. Modifying these will result in altering behavior. Research has indicated that this type of therapy can be effective in work-related stress.1

Behavioral Stress Therapy

Behavioral therapy does not stand alone. In addressing stress, it combines with cognitive theory to form cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is often dubbed “talk therapy.” Its basis does lie in the theory that the root of stress is not the actual event but in the perception. In the process of exploration, the therapist must help the client discover and eventually understand the link between the illogical emotions and the stress. Research seems to back up the effectiveness of this form of therapy in reducing and relearning how to handle stress.

Holistic Stress Therapy

Behavioral_Stress_TherapyThe term holistic is used interchangeably with alternative. Holistic ways of reducing stress resulting from work, finances and life in general, may involve adopting a new outlook or, at least, taking a new approach. Holistic approaches may be worked on individually or in a group. This form of stress therapy may be practiced by the individual or on the individual. Examples of the former are yoga, while examples of the latter include, massage, reflexology and reiki. Aromatherapy, and even reiki to a certain extent, can fit into both categories.

Some research does indicate the effectiveness of integrating certain types of holistic practices. Studies of yoga do point out that it can be effective in reducing stress-related aspects of life including anxiety.2 Massage at the workplace has also been noted as a great stress reliever.

Delivery Systems

Traditionally, stress therapy has been delivered on a face-to-face basis. The therapist and client met in a room to discuss the approach and adopt whatever technique was suited. The benefits of stress therapy through this method are

  • Direct contact
  • Ability to directly interact
  • The personal touch
  • Fine tuning of a program is available

In the past few years, another delivery system has begun to become popular. This is online or “etherapy.”3 Research indicates it is as effective in treating stress-related health issues as conventional methods if it falls into certain categories and follows the right protocol.4 The chart below provides a basic description as well as benefits from utilizing the different forms of internet delivery systems.

Type of Internet Stress Therapy Description Benefits
Etherapy The therapist and client communicate in a variety of ways e.g. e-mail, Skype, ChatThe treatment program is arranged online and catered to meet the needs of the client Available at any timeEmails and communications can remind the client of their goals and help to reinforce the programs
E-counseling Advice is provided in a more intense means with ongoing support using text. This approach may be more current and ongoing. Counseling may or may not include a specific type of treatment program Similar benefits as etherapy. May sometimes be more immediate if not as intense or complete
Self-guided treatment Programs Internet-based treatmentprograms that lack specific interaction between a therapist and a client This is a means of utilizing the internet to follow a specific program. Although the client may never actually come into contact with the therapist. It allows someone to work on their own and on their own time while proceeding with a guided treatment
Online support groups These are online groups that may offer advice, post comments and provide information on various aspects of stress therapy.Online support groups may have chat groups and forums for in depth or frivolous discussion These groups provided a place to vent, to touch base and to discover individuals who are undergoing the same problems you are experiencing.

It is important to recognize that not everybody is suited to different one-on-one forms of therapy. The same is true for internet forms. In order to be ready to go online, you need to be literate and savvy. You also have to be cognizant of what the program intends.

Conclusion

Stress is a normal part of life in the 21st century. In fact, it has been around for centuries. Therapy can help you address the fall-out that may occur from stress. While traditional means of therapy remain, the internet has resulted in new possibilities. Both systems of delivery can prove effective when the methods, the client, the therapy work match.

References:

1Gardner, B; Rose, J; Mason, O; Tyler, P; and Cushway, D (2005) Cognitive Therapy and Behavioural Coping in the Management of Work-Related Stress: An Intervention Study. Work & Stress, 19(2): 137-152.

2Clark, L; Edwards, S; Thwala, J; and Louw, P. (2011). The Influence of Yoga Therapy on Anxiety. Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(1): 24-31.

3Abbott, JAM; Klein, B; and Ciechomski, L (2008). Best Practices in Online Therapy. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 26(2/4):360-375.

4 Litz, BT; Engel, CC; Bryant, RB; and Papa, A (2007). A Randomized, Controlled Proof-of-Concept Trial of an Internet-Based, Therapist-Assisted Self-Management Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Am J Psychiatry, 164 (November):1676-1684.

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