7 Unique Therapies

When you hear the word “therapy,” do you picture someone lying on a couch talking while the therapist takes notes in the corner? Some types of therapy embody this image of counseling, such as psychodynamic therapy, wherein the patient talks about their feelings, problems, and thoughts and the therapist responds. However, there are many unique types of therapy you’ve likely never heard of that take on different forms. This article will dive deeper and discuss various applications and benefits.  

1. Animal-Assisted Therapy

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is something that UConn offers here on campus in the form of pet therapy! In this type of counseling, the patient interacts with an animal, most commonly a dog or horse, while talking to the therapist. AAT has been shown to decrease stress levels as well as anger and aggression; reduce hostility towards oneself and others; improve social interactions; increase self-esteem, patience, and trust; and provide a sense of empowerment. Physically, patients experience decreased heart rate and blood pressure along with an increase of endorphins. The combination of these benefits leads to overall improved mood and less anxiety. Human patients aren’t the only ones who benefit- the therapy animals enjoy the attention and have a positive experience, too.  

2. Art Therapy

For those who enjoy being creative, art therapy may be beneficial. In this type of counseling, patients are able to create through various mediums and may also analyze the artwork of others. Common forms of creating include painting, drawing, sculpting, carving, making pottery, and making collages. Art therapy is beneficial for a wide range of issues, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, illnesses like cancer or heart disease, eating disorders, and family and relationship conflicts. Art therapy is helpful for those who may have trouble expressing themselves verbally- in fact, this type of counseling works very well for non-verbal patients.  

3. Hypnotherapy

A more controversial form of therapy is known as hypnotherapy, in which hypnosis is used to make patients more susceptible to discussing memories, thoughts, and behaviors. The therapist uses perceptual cues, including auditory and visual cues, to induce the hypnotic state. There is some debate over the effectiveness of this form of counseling, but supporters assert that hypnotherapy is beneficial in treating phobias, addictions, and harmful habits. 

4. Cinema Therapy

In movie therapy, also known as cinema therapy, patients watch films for therapeutic purposes. Proponents of this therapy believe personal reflection is brought out in patients when they experience the feelings created by music, dialogue, lighting, and other thematic aspects. Movie therapy is used in many types of counseling, such as family, individual, and group, but it has been shown to be especially helpful for couples. Therapists assign clients a movie and discuss how to watch it in a mindful manner. Reactions to the movie are discussed in the follow-up session, which can be reassuring to those who experience difficulties opening up they can relate their experiences to the character(s) in the film, and therefore may find it easier to share.  

5. Music Therapy

People use music for a variety of things- to feel calm, to relate to the lyrics, to have something to listen to while cleaning or doing homework- and music therapy utilizes music to improve and maintain the overall well-being of clients. This form of therapy uses both active and receptive forms. Active forms mean that the person is making music, whether by singing, humming, using an instrument, etc. Receptive forms mean that the person is listening to music and could involve them analyzing the lyrics. Music therapy has been shown to help clients relax as well as improve their mental functioning, especially for those with Alzheimer’s. Music therapy has also been used to help with speech production in stroke survivors, improve fine motor skills for those who are impaired, and help autistic children strengthen their emotional intelligence.   

6. Sand Tray Therapy

Sand tray therapy utilizes sand to allow the client to build their inner world through which to express themselves. Often, this type of therapy is used for children, but it can be used for teenagers and adults as well, especially victims of trauma who may have trouble vocalizing. There are typically miniatures, figurines, and different colors of sand in order to allow people to build scenes from their lives and play out different scenarios or recreate events that happened. Therapists often guide and encourage expression and can integrate other therapeutic aspects, such as music, to help create a relaxed environment.  

7. Wilderness Therapy

The last type of unique therapy we’ll cover is wilderness therapy. This type of counseling is primarily for adolescents to help them change negative patterns of behavior or mindsets. Wilderness therapy encourages self-discovery and involves trips into wild areas, skills training, and team-building activities. The therapy is meant to mimic challenges found in the world in order to help prepare participants for life after the trip ends. Adolescents learn how to develop healthy boundaries and forge positive relationships, as well as how to take feedback and criticism into account. Overall, wilderness therapy helps participants gain self-confidence, trust, and communication skills.  

For more information about any of these therapies (and more!), check out goodtherapy.org.  


GoodTherapy Editor team. “Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy.” Types of Therapy, GoodTherapy, 8 Jan. 2019, https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/animal-assisted-therapy.      

GoodTherapy Editor team. “Art Therapy.” Types of Therapy, GoodTherapy, 18 Apr. 2016, https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/art-therapy.   

GoodTherapy Editor team. “Hypnotherapy.” Types of Therapy, GoodTherapy, 12 Feb. 2015, https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/hypnotherapy

GoodTherapy Editor team. “Movie Therapy.” Types of Therapy, GoodTherapy, 23 Nov. 2015, https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/movie-therapy

GoodTherapy Editor team. “Music Therapy.” Types of Therapy, GoodTherapy, 22 Dec. 2015, https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/music-therapy

GoodTherapy Editor team. “Sand Tray Therapy.” Types of Therapy, GoodTherapy, 3 May 2020, https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/sand-tray-sand-play-therapy

GoodTherapy Editor team. “Wilderness Therapy.” Types of Therapy, GoodTherapy, 1 Mar. 2016, https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/wilderness-therapy

By Maggie Cummings
Maggie Cummings Career Consulting and Services Intern