Tradtitional & Somatic Therapies
Acupuncture, Somatic Therapy, Equine Therapy, Forest Bathing
Somatic practices pull from many traditional cultural practices from around the globe like cold water baths from Indigenous cultural and ceremonial practice & meditative practices that originated in India.
Somatics describes a body-oriented approach that’s used to better understand pain, discomfort, and imbalances in the body. Somatic therapy uses different types of movement to help people increase bodily awareness, release trauma, and manage their mental health symptoms. Somatic therapy, uses mind-body techniques to address the physical and psychological symptoms of mental health conditions. Somatic therapy is commonly used to treat trauma.
Somatic therapy involves understanding your body, including how to regulate your breathing focusing on bringing sensory awareness to the throat, diaphragm, jaw, and shoulders as you breathe in and to the belly and chest as you exhale.
Somatic exercises can include breathwork, cold plunging, mindfulness, grounding, dance, yoga and other body movement techniques.
Equine Therapy, also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), is a treatment that includes equine activities in an equine environment in order to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth for veterans suffering from the physical wounds of war, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and many other mental health challenges. Rehabilitative goals are related to the patient’s needs and the therapist’s standards of practice. Interacting with horses builds trust and confidence and strengthens emotional bonds with each session.
During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, a type of non-conventional therapy known as “battlefield acupuncture” (BFA) gained traction at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to treat the pain of wounded military men and women. “Western medicine was great for helping these patients but had its failures,” BFA originator retired Air Force Col. Dr. Richard Niemtzow wrote in an essay in the journal Medical Acupuncture. In recent years, VA has been integrating BFA—a type of acupuncture in which needles are placed on several specified points on each ear—as a choice for pain relief alongside conventional medications.
VA researchers have studied the therapy and published an article with their findings in the August 2021 issue of the journal Pain Medicine. The article, titled “The Implementation and Effectiveness of Battlefield Auricular Acupuncture for Pain,” discusses the promise and challenges of the approach.
The pain alleviated by acupressure and acupuncture is often associated with PTSD symptoms and the great thing is the acupuncture is fully covered at the VA either in house or through a community care referral from your primary care provider.
Whole Health is VA’s approach to care that supports your health and well-being. Whole Health centers around what matters to you, not what is the matter with you. This means your health team will get to know you as a person, before working with you to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs, and goals.