Treatment Modalities

The word “therapy” is a general term that can be used to describe a variety of activities designed to help a person who is struggling with physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual issues.

At Sierra Tucson, we incorporate a wide range of traditional and integrative therapies into the personalized comprehensive treatment that are designed to meet the unique needs of each person who chooses to heal with us.

A Range of Therapeutic Opportunities

As the many pages in this section of our website indicate, the individual therapy and group therapy that comprise the Sierra Tucson treatment model have been selected to ensure that our patients receive care that is best suited to their specific circumstances.

In order to have maximum beneficial impact, residential treatment can never be a “one size fits all” experience — and at Sierra Tucson, our dedication to providing a range of therapies ensures that we are prepared to offer the types and levels of treatment that our patients need.

Treatment at Sierra Tucson involves a unique combination of time-tested and emerging therapies. From traditional office-based  individual therapy sessions to more innovative therapeutic activities (such as those conducted with the horses or atop our ropes course), the spectrum of therapies at Sierra Tucson exists for two reasons: To meet our patients where they are, and to get them where they want to be.

Therapy at Sierra Tucson

The following are some of the therapy types, and therapeutic activities that are part of residential treatment at Sierra Tucson:


Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy is a form of experiential psychotherapy in which participants complete challenging activities within a safe and closely supervised environment. Ropes courses, problem-solving activities, wilderness experiences, and trust-based activities are all examples of common forms of adventure therapy.

Adventure Therapy on our Challenge Course

At Sierra Tucson, patients have the opportunity to participate in adventure therapy via 16 elements on our challenge course, as well as numerous indoor adventure therapy activities.

  • The challenge course and adventure activities provide the perfect opportunity to face interpersonal issues.
  • Here, patients gain a heightened awareness about behavior and consequences, acceptance, and trust.
  • They also may discover personal limitations or that they have greater reserves of strength, capabilities, and courage in the process.

Part of All Sierra’s Treatment Programs

Adventure therapy is part of all regular treatment programs at Sierra Tucson, with patients typically participating in a therapeutic adventure activity once a week. These are all group activities, though some have an individual component to them that requires the rest of the group to be verbally encouraging and supportive to one member.

Many of the activities are low-impact team-building exercises, like catching and tossing or passing objects through a maze. Other activities are centered on solving problems, which is especially useful for chronic pain patients who have limited mobility.

Adventure Therapy at Sierra is Voluntary

Though effective adventure therapy is accomplished in a safe, nurturing, and closely supervised environment, some patients may still be hesitant to participate. Those who prefer not to participate always have the option of sitting out a particular activity and just observing if they do not feel comfortable participating.

Our Therapeutic Recreational Activities Program is designed to promote recovery and encourage our patients to pursue healthy lifestyles after their time in residential treatment.

Therapeutic Recreation Assessment

Each patient at Sierra Tucson receives a Therapeutic Recreation Assessment, which is used in planning activities to enhance the patient’s treatment process and to facilitate continuing care recommendations pertinent to recovery. The attending physician assesses the patient’s appropriate level of activity throughout the course of treatment.

Benefits of Therapeutic Recreation

In addition to the many therapeutic benefits that can be gained from participating in these activities, therapeutic recreation also allows patients to discover new and productive ways to fill their leisure hours or to process stresses and pressures. For individuals who previously spent much of their days acquiring and using drugs — or who responded to stress by engaging in self-harming activities — learning healthy new pursuits can be a key element in promoting recovery and preventing relapse.

Types of Therapeutic Recreation

The following are examples of the innovative and effective therapeutic activities that we use to help our clients address their unique needs and meet their personal goals. Because of the individualized nature of treatment at Sierra Tucson, participation in these activities is determined on a case-by-case basis.

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Climbing Wall

The Climbing Wall is one element of Sierra Tucson’s Therapeutic and Recreational Activities Program. Self-discovery often crystallizes during an experience that requires physical and mental exertion in the face of a potentially fearful activity. With its height and verticality, the Climbing Wall serves as an important therapeutic metaphor. As patients confront the physical demands of the wall and the challenge to scale it, they discover personal emotional truths concerning fear, trust, honesty, and dependency.

Benefits of the Climbing Wall

The following are among the benefits that patients can gain from completing activities such as the climbing wall:

  • Increased awareness of the relationship between behaviors and consequences
  • Improved self-image and self-esteem
  • Confidence boost
  • Increased ability to trust (both self and others)
  • Appreciation for the power of focus and being in the moment
  • Faith in one’s ability solve problems and overcome challenges
  • Discovery of personal qualities such as inner strength and perseverance

Lessons From the Climbing Wall

Though outwardly a primarily physical activity, completing the climbing wall can help patients look at life from a new perspective and re-evaluate their previously held convictions and assumptions about themselves and their role within their family, workplace, school, and/or community.

Of course, the ultimate objective for any therapeutic activity is to take the skills and insights developed during the activity and transfer them to real life situations. The climbing wall facilitates the following types of skill transfers:

Specific transfer: In the process of completing the climbing wall, patients may develop new physical skills, such as spotting, belaying, and climbing. Since one aspect of addiction treatment is finding new and healthy ways of occupying time that was previously spent using drugs, gaining new recreational capabilities can be a significant development.

Non-specific transfer: In addition to demonstrating the physical skills required to actually make it to the top of the climbing wall, succeeding in this therapeutic activity also involves “intangibles” such as trusting in oneself and others, persevering in the face of adversity, and effectively communicating. These inner capabilities have myriad real-world applications, even for those whose real-world responsibilities don’t include climbing walls.

Metaphoric transfer: Metaphor can be a powerful element in residential treatment for addiction and related conditions — and adventure therapy (such as climbing walls, ropes courses, and wilderness excursions) offer many opportunities to employ metaphor as a means of looking at one’s life from a different perspective. Climbing walls and overcoming similar physical obstacles are excellent metaphors for addressing and overcoming challenges at home, in school, and at the workplace

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Chiropractic Therapy

At Sierra Tucson, we work with many people who suffer from chronic pain.

Addiction, depression, and the other issues that we treat all involve varying degrees of pain — both physical and emotional. In some cases, the pain played a role in the development of the problem, while in other cases, the disorder itself caused (or exacerbated) the pain that the patient has been struggling with.

Chronic Pain & Addiction

For example, many cases of prescription pill addiction begin with an attempt to medicate physical pain. However, because the more common prescription pain medications are also highly addictive, what began as an attempt to relieve pain can quickly morph into an addiction.

Regardless of whether a person began taking prescription pain medications under a healthcare provider’s supervision or in a misguided attempt to “self-medicate,” if they are not properly managed these drugs can actually increase the pain the patient is experiencing. This additional pain may drive the patient to increase his or her substance abuse — and suddenly a vicious cycle of suffering has been established.

In other words, sometimes pain is a symptom of an underlying disorder, sometimes it’s a root cause, and sometimes it’s both. Either way, we know it hurts. And we are dedicated to helping our patients minimize and learn to manage pain in their lives.

Chiropractic Therapy for Patients in Pain

In many cases, physical pain (either acute or chronic) is the precursor that leads to issues such as substance abuse, addiction, and depression. One of the many services that we provide to help our patients heal their bodies is chiropractic care.

Chiropractic is a well established field of healthcare that deals with problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system. Every year, tens of thousands of patients across the nation turn to chiropractic care for problems such as joint pain, neck pain, and lower back pain. In the 120 years since chiropractic care was introduced, it has developed into one of the largest healthcare disciplines — and it has helped countless patients overcome pain that ranged from distracting to debilitating.

Chiropractic Therapy at Sierra Tucson

At Sierra Tucson, all chiropractic services are provided by experienced licensed Doctors of Chiropractic. Patients are screened for the appropriateness of chiropractic service, and those who are determined to be in need of this service will be referred by our attending medical provider.

As you review the information on our website, know that we’re always happy to answer any specific questions you may have about treatment at Sierra Tucson.

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Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy came about in mid-20th century as a means of concentrating on a person’s problem behaviors and thoughts. The major philosophical assumption of cognitive therapy is that by changing individuals’ thinking, their belief system, and, in turn, their behavior is changed.

In other words, cognitive therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which clients are encouraged to overcome mental health issues by changing unhealthy or counter-productive thought processes, emotions, and behavior patterns.

The Basis of Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is also based upon the principle that emotions are a critical piece in helping people deal with their thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs about themselves and the world around them and the behaviors that follow. Sierra Tucson utilizes cognitive therapy in conjunction with other therapies that best meet the needs of each patient.

Though behavior changes are one of the goals of cognitive therapy, the focus of this form of therapy (as indicated by the word “cognitive”) is on the patient’s cognition, or mental processes.

Cognitive therapy was developed in the 1960s by Aaron T. Beck, a psychiatrist who is credited with a number of advancements in the treatment of depression.

In the years since cognitive therapy was introduced to the world, the general term “cognitive therapy” is often subdivided into three related yet separate forms of psychotherapy:

Pure Cognitive Therapy

“Pure” cognitive therapy focuses on unhealthy or counter-productive thought processes. For example, patients who have a tendency to view all setbacks as evidence that they are hopeless or worthless will work with a cognitive therapist to alter this form of thinking. By developing the ability to understand temporary setbacks as opportunities for recalibration and improvement – and not evidence of abject failure – patients are much better prepared to see themselves in their world in a more hopeful and forgiving light.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, CBT “is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events.” CBT is an active, goal-based technique that has proved to be effective with individuals who are struggling with issues as disparate as substance abuse and addiction, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, mood disorders and eating disorders.

Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET)

Also referred to as rational-emotive behavior therapy (or REBT), rational-emotive therapy is based in the belief that closely held beliefs and attitudes can undermine a person’s ability to live a full and personally satisfying life. RET helps individuals recognize when negative emotions or attitudes are threatening to overwhelm their sense of well-being, and teaches them how to maintain healthy balance in their lives.

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Creative Expression

As is also the case with adventure therapy, creative expression is a general term that can be applied to a range of related therapeutic activities. The following are examples of creative expression therapy:

  • Art therapy
  • Dance therapy
  • Historygrams
  • Journaling
  • Music therapy
  • Psychodramas

These and other types of creative expression therapy can help patients make significant strides on their personal path to recovery.

Introspect and Communication

Creative expression is a means of encouraging introspection and communication via creative arts. In addition to providing patients with a variety of opportunities to express themselves, creative expression therapy also encourages them to identify and address issues that they may have previously been hesitant to discuss. For example, trauma survivors who may not be able to verbalize their emotions may find that art, music, or dance allows them to express the pain and other emotions that they have previously been incapable of revealing.

For patients who are struggling with addictions, eating disorders, depression disorders, and other conditions, creative expression can serve a similar function. In many cases, self-defeating behaviors are symptomatic of underlying conditions or the result of unhealthy responses to past experiences. Creative expression can provide the means for both identifying and addressing these underlying conditions or previously repressed emotions.

Relapse Prevention

In the case of addiction treatment, creative expression also serves as a means for patients to explore new ways of spending leisure time. During recovery, finding productive ways to fill the time that was previously dedicated to acquiring and using drugs is an important component of relapse prevention.

Sierra Tucson utilizes creative expressive techniques to complement the treatment experience for our patients. Creative expressive techniques further deepen the journey to self-discovery.

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Equine-Assisted Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy (also sometimes referred to as “equine therapy”) is a form of experiential adventure therapy in which patients interact with horses under the guidance and supervision of qualified professionals.

By taking the therapeutic experience out of the traditional office environment — and by focusing the patient’s attention on interacting with one of nature’s most majestic creatures, equine-assisted therapy allows both patients and professionals to gain insights into the patient’s behaviors and motivations. This innovative form of experiential therapy teaches people about themselves, allows recognition of dysfunctional patterns of behavior, and helps define healthy relationships.

How Equine-Assisted Therapy Works

Equine-assisted therapy occurs in a small-group setting, facilitated by a certified equine-assisted therapist and a trained professional therapist. The process involves establishing a relationship and interacting with a horse through various activities such as grooming or group experiential exercises. Through interaction between the horse and the patient, the trained professionals ask questions based upon what is being revealed through the “relationship.” Individuals may receive one-on-one focus within the group setting.

At the closing of the equine-assisted therapy session, patients are provided time to process the experience with the therapists and integrate the insights into their treatment plan.

Why Equine-Assisted Therapy Works

Horses are typically non-judgmental and have no expectations or motives. Therefore, a patient can practice congruency without the perceived fear of rejection. The horse assists in making patients aware of their emotional state as the horse responds in reaction to their behavior.

Through working with the horse, equine-assisted therapy patients can gain insight into their feelings, behaviors, patterns, congruency, boundaries, and stumbling blocks to recovery. The process can be a very effective adjunct to treatment.

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Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy is an umbrella term that applies to a range of action- and movement-based forms of psychotherapy.

First used in the 1970s, experiential therapy uses a wide range of activities (such as role playing, wilderness adventures, expressive arts, animal-assisted experiences and trust-based activities) to identify and address hidden or subconscious issues that may not reveal themselves via more traditional forms of therapy.

For patients who have previously participated in more traditional forms of psychotherapy (primarily talk therapy in a clinical or office setting), experiential therapy can be particularly effective due to its ability to take the patient’s focus off the therapy itself and encourage him or her to function “in the moment.”

For example, while completing a ropes course, the patient will be focused on mastering what first may appear to be an insurmountable task, and will be more likely to let his/her guard down than he or she would during a traditional individual or group talk therapy session.

What are the Benefits of Experiential Therapy?

During experiential therapy sessions, patients have the opportunity to experience successes, identify obstacles, develop improved self-esteem, and take greater responsibility for their actions. After the experiential therapeutic activity, they have the opportunity to process their emotions and receive specific feedback based upon their decisions, actions, and reactions.

Though not necessarily a primary focus of experiential therapy, the activities that patients participate in may also serve the purpose of providing them with new ways of filling leisure time or other “down times” during their daily lives.

This may be particularly important for individuals who are in treatment for substance abuse and addiction, because part of the recovery process involves finding healthy and productive leisure activities to fill the hours previously occupied by searching for, acquiring, and using alcohol or other drugs.

What Conditions/Disorders Does Experiential Therapy Treat?

Experiential therapy has been an effective component of comprehensive treatment programs for individuals who are struggling with a range of issues and disorders.

Experiential therapy has been successfully integrated into treatment programs for adults and teens who are receiving treatment for alcohol, chemical dependency, mood disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and a host of other related conditions.

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Grief & Spirituality Therapy

At Sierra Tucson, we are committed to helping our patients heal in a complete manner that addresses their physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual needs. This Mind-Body-Spirit philosophy addresses the ways in which our thoughts, actions, feelings, and emotions influence each other — and pays particular attention to unresolved issues that continue to damage our patients’ ability to heal past wounds and pursue a healthier future.

Two important aspects of this approach to treatment are grief and spirituality.

The Impact of Unresolved Grief

Recovery from substance abuse, eating disorders, depression disorders, and other self-defeating behaviors often involves recognizing that grieving (that process by which all humans adjust to loss and change), has been a significant and frequently under-acknowledged dynamic in our lives.

For example, in the cases of individuals who turned to substance abuse or another form of self-harm in order to numb themselves to the pain of loss, unresolved grief can resonate for years — even decades — and can stop a person from moving forward in a productive manner.

At Sierra Tucson, our staff members are trained to teach patients how to grieve in a healthy and natural process that leads to resolution of loss. Patients learn how this process has been interrupted by the use of mood-altering substances, compulsive behaviors, trauma, or dysfunctional family roles. Patients are guided into the grief that has been inhibited, thereby allowing the process of healing to occur naturally.

Benefits & Outcomes of Grief Therapy

Outcomes of grief work frequently include increased self-esteem, reduction in reported depression and self-harm, and dramatic emergence of energy for life and the tasks of recovery. Emotional access is further encouraged as the bridge to personal spiritual discovery. We believe that the ability to identify, experience, and express all emotions appropriately is the conduit to authenticity, values clarification, and passionate connections with self and others.

Grief and Spirituality Groups at Sierra Tucson

Grief and spirituality therapists co-facilitate grief work in Process Groups and lead Specialty Grief Groups for patients with unresolved losses. Patients may be assigned to individual grief/spiritual consultations.

Spirituality is enhanced through 12-Step meetings and Step work, nondenominational services, walking the labyrinth, talking circles, yoga, and meditation. Patients are encouraged to explore their spirit in our transformative desert setting—with music, art, physical movement, and Equine-Assisted Therapy.

Learn More or Get Help Today

To learn more about Sierra Tucson, or to get help for yourself or someone you love, call us at 800-842-4487 or fill out our confidential online contact form.

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Individual Therapy

In residential treatment, therapy usually takes place in one of two general formats: individual and group.

Within these groups, different types of therapy may occur. For example, family therapy and most forms of adventure therapy are forms of group therapy, while expressive arts, psychodrama, and role-playing therapies may occur during either individual or group sessions.

Individual Therapy at Sierra Tucson

Individual therapy is a one-on-one experience between patient and professional. Individual therapy allows for maximum privacy and confidentiality, and is an essential component of any effective residential treatment program.

No two patients will have the exact same histories, issues, strengths, and needs — thus, no two individual therapy sessions will be the same. However, there are certain general attributes that are common among most forms of individual therapy.

First, individual therapy provides an opportunity for the patient and his/her therapist to ensure that they are aligned on both the objectives of the treatment and the patient’s progress toward those objectives.

Individual therapy provides the patient with the most confidential format for expressing him/herself.

This also provides the ideal environment to focus on the patient’s unique needs. In many cases, issues that are addressed during individual therapy will prepare the patient to have a more successful experience during group sessions and in other aspects of treatment.

Individual therapy at Sierra Tucson consists of one-on-one meetings with the primary therapist, physician or medical provider; or with a specialty or evening/weekend therapist.

Process Group Therapy at Sierra Tucson

Process groups are small gatherings (usually six to eight people) who come together in an environment of safety and trust for the common purpose of addressing the issues they are struggling with; expressing their thoughts, feelings, and emotions; and both give and receive support and feedback.

Process groups at Sierra Tucson include trained and experienced therapists, but the direction of the group will be determined by the patients.

Though a process group may have been developed around a particular patient profile or point of emphasis (for example, a process group for women who are struggling with addiction, or a process group for older adults), the group experience does not follow an agenda or externally imposed structure. The members of the group determine the direction that the process group will take.

The following are among the many benefits of process group therapy:

  • Developing trusting relationships
  • Identifying and expressing thoughts and emotions
  • Learning to communicate more effectively
  • Receiving feedback from individuals with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives
  • Receiving support from others who have experienced similar struggles
  • Providing feedback and suggestions to other group members (looking beyond oneself and contributing to the good of the group)
  • Providing support to other group members

Process groups are the most common form of therapy at Sierra Tucson — though (as indicated above) all patients also participate in regularly scheduled individual therapy sessions throughout their residents to process issues and discuss treatment plans.

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Integrative Therapies

What are Integrative Therapies?

The word ‘integrative’ in integrative therapies refers to creating a whole, cohesive treatment plan, and bringing together the cognitive, behavioral, and physiological systems within an individual. Integration suggests that the therapeutic elements are part of one combined approach to theory and practice.

An integrative approach to therapy looks at the whole person, and combines mainstream therapies with complementary and alternative therapies to bring healing to all areas of one’s life.

The therapies are among the full spectrum of integrative therapies:

What are the Benefits of Integrative Therapies?

In conjunction with traditional treatment methods, integrative therapies enhance a patient’s treatment and recovery experience. Integrative therapy techniques are proven to advance the process of recovery.

An individualized, integrated approach to therapy promotes wellness in all areas of life – physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Through integrated therapies, patients work on overcoming habitual, self-defeating behaviors and begin to take positive steps toward optimal health.

Some benefits of integrative therapies:

  • Lowering of blood pressure
  • Promoting restful sleep
  • Reduction in anxiety
  • Stress management and reduction

What Disorders are Treated with Integrative Therapies?

The following are among the many disorders that can be effectively treatment with integrated therapy treatment:

Individualized Treatment Programs

The comprehensive therapeutic modalities involved in a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach provide effective individualized treatment for a wide range of disorders and addictions.

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Massage Therapy

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage increases body awareness, promotes relaxation, and decreases muscle fatigue and strain, which complements the therapeutic process. As part of an integrative approach, a medical provider may recommend massage therapy when it is clinically appropriate. Massage therapists are licensed and strive to maintain the highest standards of continued education and professionalism.

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and disorders. Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Massage therapists typically use their hands and fingers for massage but may also use their forearms, elbows and even feet. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure techniques.

There are many different types of massage, including Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage, trigger point massage, reflexology, warm stone massage, and Shiatsu massage to name a few.

Physiological and Psychological Changes

Massage as a healing tool has been around for thousands of years in many cultures. Touching is a natural human reaction to pain and stress, and is used for conveying compassion and support. Healers throughout history have developed a wide range of therapeutic techniques using touch.

Massage therapy does more than just relax your body and mind, physiological and psychological changes occur, even more so when massage is utilized as therapy and not simply as a luxury. Massage therapy can be a powerful tool in the recovery process.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

  • Stress reduction
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Pain management
  • Lowering of blood pressure
  • Enhanced sleep quality
  • Improved concentration
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced fatigue

Research continues to show enormous healing and therapeutic benefits of touch. Massage therapy is becoming a more integral part of healing and recovery treatment programs.

Numerous studies indicate that massage therapy helps relieve depression and anxiety. It has lowered levels of Cortisol by up to 50 percent, and increased levels of neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.

What disorders does Massage Therapy treat?

Massage therapy is used as part of a comprehensive and integrated therapy plan to treat numerous disorders, including the following:

Massage therapy is showing great promise in specifically treating anorexia nervosa. In a study with women diagnosed with anorexia, the results demonstrated that after receiving a massage twice a week for five weeks, the patients reported lower stress and anxiety levels. These women also had lower cortisol levels and increased dopamine and norepinephrine (“feel good” hormones) after the massage therapy treatments. They also reported decreased body dissatisfaction on the Eating Disorders Inventory as a result of massage therapy.

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Qigong Therapy

What is Qigong Therapy?

Qigong is a relaxing form of Tai Chi, which has important therapeutic health benefits. Qigong emphasizes conscious control of the breath and remaining totally relaxed while moving through a series of postures. The combination of movement, controlled breathing, and relaxation seems to release the body’s own healing powers.

Ancient Chinese Medicine

Qigong has roots in ancient Chinese medicine and integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. It promotes good health by facilitating the body’s internal healing mechanisms to relieve stress, develop flexibility, improve coordination and increase stamina. Philosophically, qigong is believed to aid in developing human potential, to help achieve access to higher realms of awareness, and awaken one’s “true nature.”

There are a variety of styles of qigong, and they can be classified as martial, medical or spiritual. Some are gentle in style, like tai chi, while others are more vigorous.

Qigong therapy uses breathwork, a therapeutic meditation that involves different natural breathing patterns.

In association with Qigong therapy, breathwork has been employed in a variety of treatment programs, including those for individuals who have been dealing with grief or loss, trauma, drug addiction, alcoholism, and related emotional and psychological issues.

Benefits of Qigong Therapy

Qigong relaxes the body, mind, muscles, tendons, joints, inner organs and bring balance between mind and spirit. Benefits include:

  • Greater stamina and vitality
  • Reduced stress
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Reduced pain
  • Improved cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, and digestive function
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Well-being and improved general health
  • A clear and tranquil mind
  • Deeper, more restorative sleep
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • More positive outlook and attitude
  • Improved physiological control
  • Improved intuition and creativity
  • Heightened spirituality

What Qigong Therapy Treats

The following are some of the disorders treated:

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Reiki Therapy

What is Reiki Therapy?

Reiki therapy is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. Reiki involves the transfer of energy from practitioner to patient and enhances the body’s natural ability to heal itself through the balancing of energy.

Spiritually Guided Life Force

Reiki practitioners transmit energy through their hands. Reiki therapy is based on the idea that life force energy flows through us. The word Reiki is made up of two Japanese words: Rei, which means universal higher intelligence or transcendental spirit; and Ki, which means life force energy. Reiki literally defined means spiritually guided life force energy.

Energy Centers and Pathways

Although Reiki is hands-on, unlike massage, it is administered with a light touch. While the patient is seated or lying down and fully clothed, the practitioner’s hands are placed along energy centers and pathways on the head, neck, shoulders and upper chest, abdomen, legs, and feet. As energy is transferred feelings of warmth, coolness, gentle tingling, or just deep relaxation may be experienced.

Benefits of Reiki Therapy?

Reiki therapy creates extremely beneficial effects, and works in conjunction with medical or therapeutic techniques to promote recovery.

Reiki energy has several benefits:

  • Deep relaxation
  • Destroys perceived energy blockages
  • Detoxify the system
  • Provides new vitality in the form of healing energy
  • Increases the vibrational frequency of the body
  • Creates deep relaxation and helps release stress and tension
  • Accelerates the body’s natural self-healing abilities
  • Facilitates better sleep
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Helps relieve pain
  • Removes energy blockages, adjusts the energy flow of the endocrine system bringing the body into balance and harmony
  • Assists the body in cleaning itself from toxins
  • Reduces some of the side effects of drugs and helps the body to recover from drug therapy after surgery and chemotherapy
  • Supports the immune system

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Shiatsu Therapy

What is Shiatsu Therapy?

Shiatsu therapy is a Japanese form of acupressure. The literal translation of shiatsu is finger (shi) and pressure (atsu). This therapeutic bodywork technique uses pressure to stimulate points on acupuncture meridians. As with acupressure, the concepts of shiatsu hold that it can promote health and facilitate healing by correcting energy imbalances in the body.

Energy Meridians

There are as many as seven hundred points on the body’s energy meridians that correspond to the muscles, nerves, bones, blood vessels, and glands that lie below the surface of the skin. Applying pressure to these points relieves energy blockages and stimulates the body’s recuperative powers.

A Shiatsu therapy session is usually performed on a futon mat, with the client fully clothed. The characteristic of shiatsu is to apply pressure using only the fingers, palms and especially the thumbs on points that have been related to the central and autonomic nervous systems. Shiatsu helps the smooth flow of chi by the application of pressure, gentle stretches and rotation of the joints.

The Shiatsu practitioner assesses areas of possible imbalance by asking a series of questions and also by palpating the soft area of the abdomen known as the hara.

Benefits of Shiatsu Therapy

Shiatsu therapy is an excellent form of pain relief. Research has shown that it initiates the release of endorphins, natural pain-killing substances produced by the body. Shiatsu may also lower the levels of adrenaline and other stress hormones, producing a relaxing effect.

The many benefits of Shiatsu therapy include the following:

  • Deep muscle and tissue relaxation
  • Stress reduction and management
  • Detoxification
  • Pain management
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Heightened spirituality
  • Restored and balanced sense of energy levels
  • Improved immune system function
  • Heightened spirituality

What Disorders Does Shiatsu Therapy Treat?

Shiatsu, as a complementary and integrative therapy, provides a deeply relaxing experience that leaves the participant with a profound sense of well-being. The following are among the many disorders that may benefit from shiatsu therapy:

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Somatic Experiencing

“Trauma is in the nervous system, not in the event.”
~Peter Levine, Ph.D.

”Somatic Experiencing®” is a short-term naturalistic approach to the resolution and healing of trauma. Peter A. Levine, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, developed this approach, based on the observation that animals in the wild are rarely traumatized—though their lives are threatened routinely.

Restoring Healthy Brain Functions

The broad scope of traumatic life events can include accidents, abuse, birth trauma, illness, medical trauma, natural disasters, and violence. Somatic Experiencing® addresses how the human triune brain (made up of the Neocortex, Limbic System, and Primitive Brain), functions in a complex, highly interconnected network to handle the experience of traumatic events.

Through research of a functional trauma response in the nervous system compared to a dysfunctional trauma response and the psychobiology of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the components of Somatic Experiencing® were formed. This therapy allows individuals to reinstate at a nervous system and muscular level the instinctual defensive and orientating responses lost or truncated through trauma.

“Nature has instilled in all animals and humans a nervous system capable of restoring equilibrium,” says Maya Youngblood, LPCC, LMT, somatic therapist at Sierra Tucson. “Humans have the same capability and regulatory mechanisms as animals to discharge a highly activated nervous system (which occurs from trauma), but this instinctive function can be superseded by the ‘rational’ part of our brain.”

The Foundation for Human Enrichment explains, “This restraint prevents the complete discharge of survival energies, and does not allow the nervous system to regain its equilibrium. The un-discharged ‘survival energy’ remains ‘stuck’ in the body and the nervous system. The various symptoms of trauma result from the body’s attempt to ‘manage’ and contain this unused energy.” This results in an imbalance and disregulation of the nervous system, and it disconnects us from ourselves, others, and spirit.

By gently awakening this innate capacity for resilience that we share with all living organisms, the straitjacket is loosened. As we are unbound from the past, a future abundant with new possibilities unfolds. Our ability to be in the present expands, revealing the timeless essence of the ‘now.’ Trauma can be hell on earth; transformed, it is a divine gift.” (Excerpt from The Foundation for Human Enrichment)

A Sense of Peace

Although trauma is a reality in life, our sense of peace and well-being can be restored. Somatic Experiencing® is one type of trauma therapy that can help people find a state of rest. Somatic Experiencing® is ordered for the patient when clinically appropriate.

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