Veterans Alternative in Holiday, FL, offers different therapy modalities to help combat veterans. These therapies usually are not offered through Veterans Affairs hospitals, but are clinically accredited.
Accelearated Resolution Therapy (ART) is a form of psychotherapy with roots in evidence-based therapies. ART helps people quickly, usually within one to five sessions. It is used for clients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health issues.
ART combines some parts of traditional psychotherapies, such as talk therapy and visualization, with the use of rapid eye movements, which are similar to the ones that occur while dreaming. A trained therapist moves his or her hand from side to side in front of the client while the person follows the hand movement with his or her eyes. “We look at their specific trigger points [what is causing stress or anxiety],” said Alison Voisin, lead clinician at Veterans Alternative.
While a traumatic memory or image may be difficult or upsetting to visualize, in ART the therapist helps lead the client past that point where they may be stuck. The clinician uses a technique called voluntary image/memory replacement to change the way the negative images are stored in the brain.
“They can choose to talk about the negative image or not,” Voisin said. “The success rate for treating PTSD is amazing.”
This is a guided meditation practice offered to veterans and their families at Veterans Alternative to help relieve stress triggers that combat veterans experience. Janel Norton, co-founder and director of operations for Veterans Alternative, leads the iRest sessions. It is a form of yoga that does not use postures, but rather uses a 10-step protocol in which you lie in a comfortable position. The 35-minute practice starts with three resolutions, according to the Veterans Alternative website:
The guided meditation is “breath sensing, body sensing, and you are in a deep state of relaxation,” Norton said. “You feel like you just took a 20-minute power nap.”
One session of iRest can feel like two hours of restful sleep for participants.
Physical therapy is an integral aspect of the program at Veterans Alternative, and it can take many forms.
Some of the activities offered are:
Yoga: Classes are offered at Veterans Alternative, as well as Trinity Yoga, which is owned by Norton, with varying levels from gentle yoga to power yoga.
TRX Tactical Training: Veterans Alternative received the first Tactical Training Locker used by a non-military organization. Usually these lockers, which are equipped with pulleys, weights, and other gear, are used for military physical training on deployments.
Kali: This Filipino Martial Art (FMA), which primarily uses a single or double rattan stick, improves coordination and concentration. Norton’s husband, Ray Norton, teaches the classes at Veterans Alternative, and classes also are offered at Gulf Coast FCS Kali in New Port Richey.
Obstacle Course: Clients can meet the challenges of an on-site obstacle course at the Holiday location of Veterans Alternative.
Swimming: Clients can swim for exercise or just to relax.
One of the most important aspects of Veterans Alternative is the fellowship of the combat veterans, trauma victims, and their families. Every Friday evening, Veterans Alternative hosts a barbecue and everyone “chills” by the fire pit. In addition to meeting fellow warriors during yoga, iRest, or physical training, the Friday events give everyone a chance to mingle and form bonds.