Monday, August 13, 2012

What is Community Based Healing?

By Tonya Elliott-Walker, LMFT - University of Phoenix Lead Faculty Area Chair I, Morningstar Counseling & Wellness Center

There comes a time when everyone can use a little support during difficult times. Sometimes it's because of a situation in life and sometimes it's because of a kind of emotional imbalance that causes depression, anxiety and relational difficulties. There are lots of theories about what causes emotional imbalance. Some believe it's biochemical; some believe it's mental and still others believe it's spiritual. The bottom line is that it causes suffering for you or your loved one. Many people in this situation do not want to reach out for help due to pride about what others may think. This often leads to isolation and distancing from others which actually exacerbates the problem. Community based healing is not just a type of treatment it's a way of life. It's creating and using a support system of compassionate, caring and empathetic people who share similar values and interests.

 When people are struggling and they isolate from their families out of shame or fear they often get to a point where they can no longer manage or function on their own. This is usually the point at which people consider entering into therapy.  In the wellness model, we encourage people not to wait until it gets to that point. Reach out and use your support system first. If you don't have a support system, then find one. Find those people who will love you for who you are right now, even in your pain, and help you overcome your challenges.  Sometimes reaching out can be so hard to do but it can also be the most healing and therapeutic experience to be accepted and loved, even in all of your imperfections. Ultimately, the lesson learned is to love and accept ourselves but, sometimes we need others to help us learn to do that.

 With community based healing, in addition to traditional therapies, you're engulfed in a community of compassionate, spiritually open minded people who have similar morals and values.  They will not judge but, hold one another accountable to specific values, dreams and goals created by the individual. Experiencing this level of acceptance and unconditional love from others, we often experience profound change and healing deep within. Sometimes all we need is spiritual direction, encouragement, and a sense of belonging to realize that inner peace is available to us now if we will just open to receive it. 

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