(Last Updated 18th September 2018)
We live in peculiar times, where money is no longer enough and too little is a scary thought. Everyone seems to be in some kind of a race, driven to do more, to do bigger, bolder, stronger, better than anyone in order to gain more or win against one another at the cost of our own health. This fosters a spirit of disconnection. We become unnecessarily stressed, which causes levels of efficiency in our daily life to be reduced. We become angry faster, lose patience, have less tolerance which can lead to sadness and the development of self-destructive patterns of thought and behaviour. Both our mental and physical health gradually deteriorate until we reach a crisis point.
Today, millions of people are affected by some kind of mental health illness all over the world. According to the W.H.O (World Health Organization), it is estimated that 300 million people are affected by depression alone, along with 60 million struggling from bipolar disorder; a condition characterized by frequent episodes of both mania and depressive symptoms. Other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders, dementia and schizophrenia are all on the rise. Only less than half of the population with a mental health illness actually get treatment. The rest either:
1) do not talk about it out of fear or shame of the stigma,
2) do not know where or who to turn too,
3) do not have access to adequate mental healthcare services.
Holistic Approach to Mental Health
In recent years, a more holistic approach to treating mental health has emerged, providing opportunities for people to get a more wholesome evidence-based treatment within natural environments that are conducive to healing and recovery. An example of this is the residential treatment centres that offer mental health services in comfortable home-like settings as opposed to an institutional hospital like spaces.
As a clinical psychologist with a multi-cultural background, having lived and worked in several countries in Europe and the Middle East, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with people cross-culturally. As a psychologist, I adopt an integrative Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach in my practice, along with other approaches such as clinical hypnotherapy and biofeedback therapy, which I will use strategically when or if indicated and depending on each person. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) is the most widely studied therapy intervention that is evidence-based and provides clear strategies to helping people improve their quality of life, manage as well as recover from ailments such as burnout, various forms of depression including bipolar disorder, various forms of anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, phobias, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD); post-traumatic stress (PTSD), conflict resolution, relationship issues, eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorders, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), addictions such as alcohol and drug dependencies as well as various chronic pains in a relatively short time due to its structured psycho-educational approach.
What will Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) teach you?
CBT will teach you to recognize cognitive distortions, which are types of thinking patterns that explain the reason we feel unwell. It will also teach you strategies such as cognitive defusion, emotional regulation, mindfulness practices and specific breathing exercises, along with many other techniques. These will allow a person to develop a better sense of control over situations that are a trigger by gradually discovering how to decrease levels of disturbance.
The length of this type of private intensive personalized CBT and mindfulness therapy intervention will vary from person to person depending on the nature of the problem. Before someone can join the Choices Retreats Program, an assessment is carried out over the phone or over an online video call.
We are all different and therefore will respond differently to various treatment models and it is to this reason that I have come up with a unique approach to one’s therapy process. With almost twenty years of mental health experience, working with people from all around the world in traditional clinical settings (from private clinics, to hospital wards as well as residential treatment centers); by offering therapy sessions in a weekly hourly format; it is only when I moved to Bali with my family that it occurred to me that a more intensive therapy intervention could be offered that could be as beneficial, if not more beneficial than the traditional model. Instead of therapy once or twice a week or every two weeks, the therapy would be offered daily for a duration that would be customized to the needs of each person.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Guidelines in the UK (NICE), studies show the recommended minimum number of CBT sessions for treatments of:
- Anxiety disorders range between eight to fourteen hours,
- Depression ranges between fourteen and twenty hours,
- Binge eating, bulimia about twenty or more hours.
This intensive program provides these recommended number of hours within a short time frame. Results so far have shown that going through the process in an intensive way as opposed to a weekly or monthly approach have provided people with an opportunity to gain perspective, insight and learn improved coping strategies much faster, hence allowing for quicker breakthroughs and recoveries with long-term benefits.
As the expression says: “Sometimes one needs to travel far, to return stronger”. There is a strong truth in this saying that seems to resonate time and time again with the numerous people that have already been on this intensive program.
So why Bali? Well, the short answer would be why not Bali?
Bali has this natural reputation for being a serene healing island in which many people from around the world travel to for various forms of retreats and holistic treatments. People will not only travel to Bali for a relaxing holiday, but also for yoga, meditation and various forms of detox.
I have been offering this person-centred intensive integrative CBT and mindfulness program to people struggling with various mental health issues for the last 4 years. Clients have the choice of either being accommodated in one of our beautiful and serene host resorts, where each person or couple have their own private room and space to work through the program in full anonymity and confidentiality. Since this is neither a clinic nor a hospital, it provides a unique opportunity for each to be more at ease in their therapeutic work. Some people will stay for eight days, others ten days, fourteen days, twenty days or even thirty days.
As a result of the unique environment in which this Choices Retreats Program is offered, we notice that it allows every person to become more easily open to address their fears and become more committed to the process which then results in returning home with more clarity, understanding and more importantly strategies that allows for long-term recovery. Integrative CBT along with mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga is a great combination of lasting positive results. To find out more about the program visit the website www.choicesretreats.com or contact us.
In this day and age, we owe it to ourselves to take a step back, to slow down, to reflect and be brave enough to challenge our mindset. For it is this that will ultimately free you from your burden.Download this article as a PDF