From hypnosis to acupuncture, holistic approach works for veterans


A holistic approach to patient care has gained traction with veterans in addition to medication. With treatments like acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and chiropractic care, it’s no wonder so many people choose Whole Health.

“Some people view these practices as non-traditional,” said Dr. Christina Vair, director of Whole Health for Salisbury Virginia. “However, yoga and tai chi have been around for thousands of years. It’s just not something that we have incorporated into Western health care.

A therapy, which has existed since the 18and century, is clinical hypnosis.

“Hypnosis has been a tool that has been used for many years within the VA,” Vair said. “The data suggests that around 70% or more of the population is hypnotizable.”

Some people respond quickly and deeply to hypnosis, while others don’t respond as well. When many people think of hypnosis, they picture a show in Las Vegas with someone clucking like a chicken.

“For entertainment purposes, people are in a certain state of control,” Vair said. “These kinds of performances are not an accurate representation of how we use hypnosis in the clinical setting. That’s not what real hypnosis is.

Veteran hobbies can be trance-based

In the clinical setting, providers focus more on trance or focused attention. Many people regularly go into a trance – like driving a car while on mental autopilot, with their mind elsewhere.

“I hope it will be of interest to other veterans. »

“A lot of our veterans have trance-based hobbies,” Vair said. “Woodworkers, artists and musicians can be so engaged in an activity that they look at the clock and see that several hours have passed. They didn’t realize it because they were so committed to what they were doing… it’s trance.

Vair was exposed to hypnosis 11 years ago. She has trained with the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis as well as the VA National Training Program. VISN 6 was the first network to organize regional training in clinical hypnosis.

Research has shown that hypnosis is effective for chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety, as well as smoking cessation.

Hypnosis Used With Chronic Pain Veterans

“It’s an interaction between a person trained in hypnosis and a patient who wants to use that focused attention to achieve a goal,” she said. “We use it a lot with veterans who suffer from chronic pain.”

Overall, Whole Health is a different approach to care. It puts the patient at the center. He asks what is important to them and shows veterans an alternative to conventional healing methods.

“Veterans are the experts on what’s going on in their minds and bodies,” Vair said. “The goal is to make them feel empowered and equipped, rather than feeling like they don’t have a voice.”

Army veteran Donna Tibbetts, who has taken five different overall health courses, had a rocky start to the service.

Not a fan at first, then changed his mind

“I have to admit, I wasn’t a big Whole Health fan at first,” Tibbetts said. “Oh, no, there’s no way it would work. However, I’ve since changed my mind.

Tibbetts said the biggest shock was that her Whole Health coach didn’t just give her the answers she was looking for. She used to go to a doctor and be told what to do to get better.

“That’s not how it works,” she said. “When you talk, they send your ideas back to you to fix you. It’s a totally different mindset. It will appear to you slowly. It’s up to you to fix yourself. »

Tibbetts, who is coming to an end with his trainer, has fond memories of his time at Whole Health. She said she knew other veterans would benefit from this service.

“Overall health coaches are really good.”

“I just hope it helps get other veterans interested,” she said. “I’m telling you, it’s great fun and the Whole Health coaches are really good at what they do.”

At Salisbury VA, Whole Health is seeing more middle-aged and older veterans, but the pandemic — and subsequent virtual modalities — has allowed more younger veterans to participate.

“Young veterans work or go to school,” Vair said. “They don’t have the ability to come from one of the 21 counties we serve, spend an hour in class, and then drive back. But now we can meet them where they are. As a result, we see more.

Vair would like to see this trend continue and one of the most important steps is to ensure that providers communicate the facets of this program to their patients.

“We’ve been in this business since 2018,” she said. “We have so many initiatives within VA that it can be an uphill battle to stand out. I don’t know if we’ll get to the point where every veteran hears about Whole Health on every visit, but that’s the goal we’re working towards. Whole Health is for everyone.


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