Holistic Treatment for PTSD

Holistic Treatment for PTSD. What do the words post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, bring to your mind? In our society, it’s not uncommon for us to associate PTSD with military veterans struggling from the mental scars of combat and war. But the truth is, you don’t have to have gone to war or even ever been in the military to have PTSD.

Between 60-80% of Americans – civilians with no military background – have some form of PTSD. And what’s more, nearly everyone is probably living with some degree of trauma, whether overt or subconscious.

PTSD can be triggered by a wide variety of trauma ranging from a one-time event to some type of sustained abuse. Trauma can be defined as anything that affects our system to the degree that it interferes with our ability to be able to process information, to be able to live life, and to be able to feel good. The symptoms created by traumatic events vary greatly and can manifest as PTSD in some.

Today, trauma work is the cutting-edge science of psychology and holistic treatment. More and more, people who come to rehab to address potentially harmful coping strategies, like substance abuse or codependency, discover that the underlying cause of these struggles is actually some form of past or present unresolved trauma and, in many cases, PTSD due to that trauma. 

No one has identical experiences of the same events – what may be traumatic for one person might hardly affect another. Similarly, the set of symptoms and the severity of those symptoms as triggered by traumatic events vary greatly.

PTSD’s large network of symptoms is often grouped into four commonly recognized categories:

  1.  Intrusive Memories: Unwanted flashbacks, intense reoccurring memories, and nightmares
  2. Avoidance: Avoiding anything that could remind you of the traumatic event including people, places, and activities, social withdrawal due to avoidance, not talking or thinking about the trauma, use of alcohol and/or drugs as an escape
  3. Negative Moods or Thoughts: General negative self-talk and world outlook, loss of memory, feelings of hopelessness and wanting to give up, detachment even from close friends and family, loss of interest in hobbies and previously enjoyable activities, numbness or a complete lack of emotions
  4. Changes in Reactivity: Being easily startled or frightened (aka startle response), physical muscle tension, increased alertness or “on guard” behavior (aka hypervigilance), insomnia, loss of concentration, uncharacteristically irritable or aggressive behavior, overwhelming guilt or shame (sometimes from survivor’s guilt)

If you are experiencing more than one of these symptoms regularly for more than a month, or if the disturbing thoughts and feelings increase in severity, you might have long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.

All About Holistic Treatment for PTSD

Our holistic, non-12 Step treatment program for PTSD at The Sanctuary provides you with the most effective tools to begin healing your trauma. If a treatment program is non-12 Step it simply means the program does not exclusively follow the precepts of the 12-Steps.

The 12-Steps work for a lot of people and have helped many overcome their PTSD. But there are still many people who walk away from 12-Step programs feeling like something is missing.

At The Sanctuary, “holistic” means we treat the entire, or whole, person – your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Holistic treatment programs are often thought of as forgetting Western medicine. But we consider all modalities of therapy, both conventional and alternative, because each part of your being might require or respond to a different type of treatment.

Why talk therapy doesn’t work for PTSD.

Conventional talk therapy does not work for PTSD because just knowing our trauma and verbally recounting it will not heal us. We must explore the effects of trauma on our physical bodies and buried within our subconscious beings – our soul and spirit.

Kelley Alexander, The Sanctuary Program Director explains, “Trauma healing work needs to be less focused on the event, and primarily focused on the releasing of the event and the releasing of how we’ve stored it in our bodies, to identify what the belief is so that we can also let that go and recreate a whole new nervous system.”

Talk therapy, like CBT, is often the first step many people take towards healing, but it is just one piece of the puzzle needed to discover complete healing. You are more than just your mind or your body. So, a truly effective treatment program should address all aspects of your being. Only then can full recovery become a possibility.

Healing for the Body

The cells in our bodies have their own memory. Trauma can actually imprint in our bodies when we’re children before we have even learned to talk – this is called pre-verbal trauma.

Sometimes trauma that has been stored in our bodies naturally heals as time passes. Often, stored trauma does not go away though, and will continue to influence our behaviors and thought patterns until we intentionally work to release it.

And what happens in our bodies affects our minds. One clear example of this mind-body connection is our gut health. It is now known that our gut microbiome’s health can directly affect our brains and our mental health. It’s all connected.

The first step to physically releasing our trauma is to create a safe space and environment for the body to relax. Only then will our fight-flight-or-freeze response deactivate. The next step is to physically nourish the body. We do this through movement therapy, organic meals, supplements, nutritional coaching, and hikes throughout our healing Sedona lands.

How does this help someone suffering from PTSD?

PTSD often causes very intense physical reactions. These physical reactions can be temporary, like the quickening of your heartbeat, shortness of breath, or dizziness. Other times they are persistent, creating long-term battles with insomnia, panic attacks, startle response behavior, and self-destructing behaviors like drinking too much or driving too fast.

We cannot dig deeper into the other layers of healing until our physical bodies are allowed to disengage and relax. Once the physical body is calmed and nourished, we can begin looking deeper and healing the other unseen and subconscious aspects of our being.

Healing for the Mind

We often internalize our experiences – both positive and negative – which, in turn, directly impacts our self-worth and our worldviews. Sometimes after traumatic events, these perspectives become distorted and lead to disempowering and dysfunctional thought patterns. And a lot of the times we don’t even know our minds are working against us because all of this is happening in our subconscious. 

We have to be able to reprogram our belief systems because these subconscious beliefs directly influence our decision-making skills and inform every aspect of the lives we are creating. At The Sanctuary we help you recondition your mind through one-on-one counseling sessions, group therapy, emotional self-regulation sessions, recovery coaching, mindfulness exercises and meditation training. 

How does this help someone suffering from PTSD?

The mind is a powerful tool. It cannot differentiate between the distorted truths we tell ourselves and reality. Left unaddressed for too long, disempowering thoughts can sabotage our emotions and our actions, further triggering and intensifying PTSD symptoms. We get caught in vicious emotional cycles that take away our ability to live a full, authentic life.

Holistic therapies for the mind help you safely explore and address your traumas. Then you can recognize, reevaluate, and shift any dysfunctional thought patterns that are blocking you from growing and moving forward beyond the trauma, both internally and externally.

Healing for the Soul

When we experience trauma, we often lose a part of ourselves. Sometimes this part gets locked away deep into our subconscious for safekeeping from the world. But in protecting our core from being hurt again, we deny ourselves pleasure, joy, and happiness. This is the suffering of the soul.

You cannot be fully healed without reconnecting with that rawest form of your being – your truest, most genuine self. We help you rediscover the richness of life through therapeutic bodywork, creative visualization, art and music therapy, sound healing, and rites of passage.

How does this help someone suffering from PTSD?

When you have PTSD, you are constantly in survival mode. In this state of being you lose your purpose, your reason for living. Reconnecting with the simple joys of life through different healing modalities helps you rediscover your childlike sense of curiosity and creativity. Through this process you can learn how to move beyond survival mode and into a life of thriving – a state of being many have given up on because of the scarring symptoms and cycle of PTSD.

Healing for the Spirit

We all have an electromagnetic energy field that is very real. We often call this the spirit. Our spirit’s energies and condition directly affect our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Healing the spirit happens through the practices of energy medicine therapies, techniques to restore balance to our energy systems, and clearing disruptive energy patterns.

How does this help someone suffering from PTSD?

Our energy affects our nervous system which is directly connected to our levels of sensitivity. Many people who experience PTSD are in a semi-constant to a constant state of hypervigilance or increased alertness. These increased levels of alertness running through our bodies make us feel like danger is all around us, even when, in reality, there is no danger.

Energy medicine and healing modalities for the spirit help restore our nervous systems to a state of balance. It allows us to achieve true relaxation and peace of mind, which has been stolen from many trauma survivors, sometimes for years.

How Is Holistic Treatment Different Than Regular AA?

The key difference between holistic treatment for healing PTSD and AA is the core belief each type of treatment is built on. Most 12-Step and AA programs are built around the belief that addiction is a disease. Therefore, in AA meetings the highest level of healing you can hope to achieve is becoming a recovering addict.

At The Sanctuary we don’t accept this as the final state of healing. We see the “addict for life” concept as a limiting belief that doesn’t allow you to fully heal. Our holistic treatment for PTSD, and the variety of therapies we offer, is based on the belief that you are not broken and therefore you can be recovered.

We believe every single person’s bodies and brains are fully capable of healing themselves – regardless of what negative coping strategy or cycle you’re caught in. This belief, that a full recovery is possible, is what all of our work at The Sanctuary is rooted in.

Is Holistic Treatment More Challenging Than AA?

PTSD, trauma, and addiction affect everyone differently. The path to healing, then, also looks very different for each of us. Just as some people find AA challenging, others might face challenges during holistic treatment.

But just because holistic treatment for PTSD might be challenging does not mean it will not be successful. Many people have successfully reclaimed their lives by following the tenants of AA. And for those who haven’t discovered that success yet, we whole-heartedly believe holistic treatment holds the key to unlocking that healing.

In order to find true healing, we must go through the difficult work of facing and addressing our deepest traumas. For many, facing our traumas may be one of the scariest or most difficult experiences we will ever have to go through. But we don’t have to go through it alone.

At The Sanctuary, your daily schedule is designed to allow you to deeply examine your full being at your own pace and in the comfort and safety of our healing lands and spaces. A team of experienced practitioners work hand-in-hand with you as you actively and intuitively heal the trauma living in your mind, body, soul, and spirit.

Avoidance is one of the most common symptoms of PTSD. But in order to break free from our trauma, we must be willing to really go through the work. There are no shortcuts in trauma healing. But a life free from pain and suffering is possible and is waiting for you.

Can I do Holistic Treatment if I Have Been in AA Before?

Holistic treatment for PTSD has something to offer everyone – whether you are or have been an active AA member or not. Rarely do any treatment programs offer therapies that treat the whole person.

So, regardless if any of your current or past programs have worked for you, holistic treatment provides the unique opportunity to explore different parts of your being and potentially achieve healing on much deeper levels. 

Who is at Risk for Relapse After Holistic Treatment?

The fear of going into relapse holds many people back from working towards recovery. This fear feeds off of our self-doubt and those thoughts that keep asking if all of this work is worth it in the end.

Holistic treatment is specifically designed to help you realize and reclaim your truest self. We hope that every single person who finishes their training at The Sanctuary finds complete healing, which also means total freedom from the fear of relapse. In fact, many of our former clients don’t have thoughts of relapse anymore. Their mindsets and way of looking at life has been so completely altered and they have found their truest purpose for living; relapse isn’t even in the realm of their reality anymore.

Still, we understand that the fear of relapse is very real and prevalent for many people battling PTSD and trauma. So, we’ve designed our program as a 90-day, two-to-three-part program (depending on whether detox is required or not).

Primary Treatment: The first 30 days of your treatment will be on-site with inpatient care. During this time, you will stay at The Sanctuary at Sedona surrounded by the healing and transformative power of our world-renowned landscapes.

Aftercare: Included in our program is 60 days of outpatient aftercare. This allows you to continue your treatment through advanced-level coursework and consistent check-ins with dedicated staff. As part of the transition period, The Sanctuary will help you connect with local resources like counselors, energy healers and life coaches, to fully establish a proper support system.

Do I Need Any Special Medications for Holistic Treatment?

The essence of holistic treatment is that you can be recovered. Because of this, there are absolutely no medications required for you to experience the complete healing that holistic treatment has to offer.

Holistic treatment does not mean that we deny Western medicine and practices, though. We look at your entire medical history and work with you to achieve the greatest balance. For some people that might mean still taking some medication or switching them to the right ones that work for you. For others, this could mean replacing medication with supplements or unlocking the healing power of different modalities to the point of no longer needing it.

Either way, we don’t ask you to pick one over the other. Your holistic treatment program is specifically tailored to your needs – medicinal, dietary, spiritual and otherwise. 

I Don’t Like Other Forms of Treatment. How Do I Know Holistic Treatment Will Work for Me?

As with anything in life, you don’t really know if holistic treatment will work for you until you try it. The one thing we do know is that holistic treatment for PTSD is unlike other programs. It’s radically different and sometimes that is exactly what you need. As one former client put it, we are a “healing and alignment center everyone should experience.”

Here are a few more experiences from our past clients:

“This experience has been a life-changer. I came here a desperate woman who didn’t want to exist anymore, consumed with the brain trauma, and (believing) that this was the way I would always be. I have experienced massive physical healing, emotional healing, and, most importantly, spiritual healing.”

“The Sanctuary is an opportunity to leave the world of the masses and return home to one’s deepest most precious self. It recognizes your life path is ‘yours’ and honors it in the most empowering of ways as it supports you in restoring it. You are taken care of on every level and in every domain of life simply by being at The Sanctuary, by being seen and heard, as well as being guided through your blindness to see your own inner light again. This is a program for those who are ‘ready’.”

“(The Sanctuary is) a place to heal from trauma and traumatic lifestyles. Where you have the opportunity, if you embrace it, to entirely redefine your life, and leave a much stronger, more whole version of yourself.”

This is My Last Chance. I Need This to Work. What Can I Do?

Many people come to The Sanctuary at Sedona and tell us this is their last chance to get better, their last chance to try to fix themselves, and their last chance to find something that works. And we believe them.

Which is exactly why we’ve committed ourselves to guiding you every step of the way through your healing journey. We know you need this to work. We know that on some level your life depends on this.

Stop living in the shadow of fear and start your journey towards healing. Contact us today for more information on our holistic PTSD treatment program.

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