The following article was written by Crossroads’ Clinical Director Dr. Mary Anne Roy, Psy.D.
As Crossroads’ Back Cove Residential Program enters into its fourth month, it seems fitting to reflect on the complementary therapies that are contributing to the success of this program. Our clients have vastly benefited from daily yoga sessions, weekly acupuncture, and equine therapy sessions. We are grateful to the expertise of Jade Integrated Health, who provides the yoga; Lisa Dulac MS, L. Ac, our acupuncturist; and Carlisle Academy, who provide the equine therapy.
In active addiction, individuals become disconnected with themselves on an emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual level. In addition to the individual, group and family therapy our clients receive, our complementary therapies have served to help women develop a healthier sense of self on all levels.
As we created the programming for the Back Cove residence in Portland, Maine, we felt it would be of great importance to design a program that was holistic in nature in order to address all components of an individual’s overall health, as research has shown that this approach results in greater recovery rates. The programming at our beautiful Back Cove facility is intensive, and these complementary therapies have helped our clients reach an optimum level of emotional and physical health in the earliest stage of their recovery journey.
The daily practice of yoga has helped our clients to develop a healthier awareness of their bodies and has taught them skills to become centered and more mindful of the present moment. Clients have stated that it is “a great way to start the day, relieve stress and get in tune with my body” and “I’ve noticed improvements in pain and issues I’ve had just after two days. The instructors will focus on your individual needs and the poses and routine are based on helping with detoxing chemicals from your body.”
In addition, clients participate in acupuncture once weekly for a one-hour session. Each client receives the ear acupuncture protocol in order to address their symptoms of addiction and detox process. In addition, our acupuncturist will individualize the sessions and also address any additional ailments that appear appropriate for their overall recovery and healing process. Clients have described the experience as “very beneficial, relaxing and meditative.”
Lastly, equine therapy continues to have a strong impact on our clients. It has complemented the treatment that we do at Back Cove Residential Program and works well in our relational model of practice. Women heal through and in their relationships with others. We are relational beings and are oriented towards relationships. When one of our relationships is strained, this experience is likely to cause us distress and discomfort.
In regard to relationships and addiction, healthy relationships are unheard of and some of the people that our clients love the most are the ones that are greatly estranged. Equine therapy has been instrumental in helping our women explore the manner in which they relate to others in an alternative way to talk therapy. Through their interactions with the horses, our women have gained insight into their relational styles and have started to develop skills such as assertiveness, impulse control, improved communication styles, improved problem-solving skills, leadership qualities and as a result, experience a healthier sense of sense of self.
Regarding equine therapy, clients have stated, “I loved it. I was able to let everything go while I was there” and “Equine therapy has helped me with learning to be present. I am in a very calm state because the animal is already in that state.”
Our group and individual clinician Andrea Mosely, LADC, LCPC shared,
“Every client has reported loving the equine therapy part of our program. We have had seasoned riders to women that were frightened of horse and all of them report the experience is rewarding and challenging. They state the mind body awareness they have gained helps them in their process of recovery.
Many of the women struggle with self-esteem and the interaction with the horses helps them to gain confidence and feel heard, sometimes for the very first time. Carlisle Academy is wonderful at taking a woman where she is and helping her to be able to participate and feel valued and accomplished.”
These therapies have helped our clients turn inward to begin their healing process from addiction rather than outward towards a substance as they have done in the past.
As a result of the comprehensive and gender-responsive substance abuse treatment programming women experience at Back Cove Residential Program, along with these complementary therapies, our clients are able to develop healthier skills to improve their lives and live another day sober.