The 20th Century Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, once said, “In order to heal others, we first need to heal ourselves. And to heal ourselves, we need to know how to deal with ourselves.” When it comes to spirituality and treatment choices for mental health, this statement embodies all.
When treating issues of mental health, it is critical that prior results and studies are taken into account. This ensures that the most effective recovery plans can be created for each individual. Additionally, this is where the importance of “evidence-based treatments” comes into play. It is the “deal with ourselves” aspect of Hanh’s statement.
Choosing evidence-based treatments is vital in mental health recovery, but that does not mean that other complementary recovery options should not be utilized. These options may include tools, techniques, and practices that help an individual attain a more spiritual life. For those that choose a spiritual path in their mental health journey, this can be seen as the “heal ourselves” aspect of Hanh’s proverb.
The Importance of Evidence-Based Treatments for Mental Health Recovery
When dealing with issues of mental health, it is important to reiterate that evidence-based treatments for recovery are highly recommended. The reason for this is not because other “experimental,” experiential, holistic, or spiritual recovery options are wrong. It is merely because science-supported efficacy is on the side of evidence-based treatments. When it comes to issues of mental health, proven efficacy is vital.
In addition to proven efficacy, the expertise of professionals and clinicians is key for mental health recovery. This does not merely apply to the doctors and recovery experts that interact directly with the client. It also includes the individuals and the scientific boards that inform them. This communication is important because it holds the recovery and treatment community to set standards. More specifically, professional guidance is vital when it comes to accepting, approving, and recommending treatment modalities.
For example, when it comes to evidence-based psychological treatments (EBPTs), there are rigorous reviews before EBPTs are used in the recovery field. One of the organizations that perform these reviews is the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). According to the scientific journal, Behaviour Research and Therapy, “NICE is particularly remarkable because, for each disorder, a panel of experts including clinicians, researchers and consumers is formed to carefully review the scientific evidence on the best treatment/s available for each physical and mental health problem.” These institutions take the time and care to ensure that the best possible treatment options are promoted to help clients recover.
Understanding the Positive Effects of Other Treatment Options for Mental Health
In mental health recovery, it is important to approach each client as a unique individual that needs a customized recovery plan. This recovery plan should have a foundation in evidence-based treatments. However, it should also leave room for supplemental treatment options.
Supplemental treatment options may include holistic practices, such as yoga and breathwork, that can help an individual with their physical health as well as help them navigate daily stressors. These options may also include experiential therapies like equine therapy, which can help a person with communication, as well as help with building and relearning life skills. Some supplemental treatment options may also offer practices that evoke spirituality.
A Focus on Mental Health and Spirituality
Many people in mental health treatment may balk at the concept of spirituality in recovery. This is because many people confuse spirituality with religion. While spirituality and religion certainly overlap, an individual does not have to be religious to be spiritual.
When it comes to spirituality and issues of mental health, there may be no better example than the philosophy of 12-Step programs. 12-Step programs recommend that an individual take on a “higher power” to help them understand that they are not alone in their struggles.
They use the term “higher power” because, unlike a specific “God,” this spiritual concept can be completely unique to the individual. 12-Step programs and the higher power concept have helped millions of people recover from the mental illness of addiction. This same concept can apply to anyone struggling with issues of mental health.
Utilizing Spirituality for Long-Term Recovery
Spirituality can be extremely helpful in mental health recovery because it does not require a facility or any other individuals to take part in it. Of course for many, their spirituality involves places of worship and fellow practitioners, but it is certainly not a requirement.
A spiritual practice can help carry an individual long after they have left a treatment center. Spirituality can also help an individual as they continue to focus on their primary evidence-based treatment sessions. Additionally, spirituality can help them when unexpected times of crisis arise.
Thich Nhat Hanh also said, “[W]ith mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” This is what spirituality can offer individuals struggling to recover from issues of mental health. It can open the door to enjoying the life that they already put so much work into recovering.
We at The Phoenix Recovery Center have a primary focus on offering evidence-based, proven-effective treatment options. However, that does not mean that we diminish the importance of utilizing other options in recovery to bolster those evidence-based treatments. For example, adding a regimen of physical activity such as yoga has been shown to be a great recovery aid. However, complementary treatments should be used in addition to a more-proven treatment, and not in place of it. Spirituality can also be a tremendously helpful aspect of an individual’s recovery. While spirituality is not a requirement of recovery, many people that lead successful recovery lives stand by the importance of spirituality wholeheartedly. For more information on how to get started on your mental health recovery journey, call The Phoenix Recovery Center at (801) 438-3185.