I came, I saw and I have to say… that I woke up.
Me, Tess, a student from the North of Sweden, travelled all the way to New Zealand to do a field study as part of my University degree in Social Work. I have had an interest in natural healing for many years. I was extremely grateful when John Coombs accepted my inquiry and invited me to spend time at Global Health Clinics (GHC) in Takapuna. I was there for a duration of five weeks and this changed me and my views about myself profoundly.
From the first day of my visit I was amazed by the passionate atmosphere at GHC concerning development and health. The Director and other practitioners all had the same strong belief in the human capacity and its ability to heal itself. I was not prepared for this kind of enthusiasm within a health context. I think that it is rather rare with a clinic like this in Sweden. GHC has a wide range of practices offered by some of the most highly professional, good-natured and kind-hearted people I have ever had the honour to meet, under the same roof. I had the opportunity to interview the Director and some of the practitioners. The aim of my thesis was about the necessity of a holistic approach within Psychiatry and why it is crucial to consider the human as a multidimensional being when treating mental illnesses.
The biochemical medicine model derived from a monistic materialistic ontology, which reduces a person’s mental health down to a process within the brain. The conventional treatment within psychiatry is based on the assumption that mental illness is created in the brain due to some sort of chemical imbalance, though studies show there is no evidence for this and many mental illnesses/disorders have no biological explanation. This chemical imbalance is more or less explained from a genetic point of view and is believed to be corrected through pharmaceutical treatment. The psychiatry operate reductionally and leave out crucial aspects. Since we all are multidimensional beings there is a need to treat clients by taking regard to all of our unique aspects. People do not get the help they need when only focusing on the mental aspects within psychiatry. One of the practitioners at GHC says:
”I understand a being; a person, to be multidimensional, we have a physical body, an emotional body, a mental body that thinks and we have a soul and we have a spirit. So we are a multidimensional being. So just treating one of those aspects won’t bring it in alignment, from my experience I know you have to treat everything.”
– Vivienne Berry, NLP master trainer, values consultant & Dreamtime healing practitioner.
All of the practitioners I have met at GHC expanded my view of life and gave me a deeper understanding of the human being. The complexity of being human has always fascinated me. For a long time I have had an interest in the brain and its plasticity. I have been a client within psychiatry in Sweden during the past six years. That has been quite a journey. I have been prescribed twelve different pharmaceutical drugs, one AD(H)D & chronic depression diagnosis and many different prognoses. My contact with psychiatry has reduced my sense of self, bruised my self confidence and left me disempowered, believing that I always will be a victim under my diagnosis. Well, my journey to New Zealand took a personal turn. Why not utilize all the available resources infront of me? I am deeply glad that I did. I had sessions with Caroll Macy (specialist in bioresonance and homeopathy), Marianne Stobie (medical herbalist and naturopath), Vivienne Berry (manager at GHC, NLP-coach and healer), Deborah Williams (craniosacral therapist) Gerald Lopez (ayurvedic massage therapist), Francis Evans (NLP-coach and hypnotherapist)and Fi Rutland (reflexoligist). They all gave me valuable knowledge and insights about myself and what I was presenting. Many of the signs of mental instability and some of the AD(H)D symptoms have significantly been reduced since my return to Sweden. My goal now is to cease taking the pharmaceutical drugs to find my true nature and get to know the essence of the person I am.
At GHC they include all dimensions of the human and with an understanding of how they all interact. They give the whole its full attention and examine the person from all aspects. Most importantly you feel that you are being listened to and seen.
Dr Wayne McCarthy (specializes in Prolotherapy and ozone therapy) at GHC says:
“The thing is with holistic medicine… that whatever the patient is coming to tell us, we are listening to them, we are not overlaying. We are not listening to them just enough to overlay a diagnosis or just of how we want to treat them. We actually believe in what they tell us and work with it.”
My system was worn out when I arrived to New Zealand, but that was my natural way of being. I came to understand that one of the reasons was because of adrenal fatigue. The collapse of my adrenals has certainly to do with my disconnection from spirit, the emotional distress and mental despair, and most of all, the pharmaceutical drugs– it all summoned up to affect my adrenal system. This, David Holden (naturopath and Nutritional Bio Chemist) explained to me. When discussing mental health in the interview he was concerned with the conventional Healthcare and the way it treats only one parameter
of the person, he says: ”Because its just like a fly on the back of an elephant, it is not going to do much, you need to change multidimensionally”. The adrenal system does not get any attention within psychiatry. After doing a lot of research on the endocrine system I now understand that my own has been working completely dysfunctionally and especially the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The disturbance within this axis has led to chronic fatigue, relapses in depression and a feeling of never being at the top of it all, for many years. Now, being on supplements and after attaining more knowledge, I feel that I am slowly recovering naturally without my reliance on pharmaceutical drugs.
John Coombs, Director at GHC, explains that a well functioning adrenal system is crucial for a healthy life. He says:
”We know that there is a direct relationship between the adrenal system and depression related conditions, by treating the adrenal system we know that that has a big contributing factor to the better decision-making process, more active diet consideration, people make more effort to exercise, they make more effort to have healthy relationships, they will make more effort to have fun in their lives, and be much more creative in how they manage their lifestyle… So they put positive effort into their lifestyle, from feeling too exhausted to really knowing what the heck to do.”
Hopefully mental health care will be considered and practiced from a holistic ontology in the future. Having practices that encompass the whole human, give support and treatment at all levels. If the system was offering support and treatment for all layers of the person it would save time and money in the future; even if much more expensive for a short period. On the long term we would see a lot less relapses, people being empowered and being able to handle themselves and their lives with more connection to their spirit. If I had been given support and encouragement to heal on all the levels, as GHC promote, I would definitely have been able to get my life on track much earlier! It would be so empowering to meet a professional team (as at GHC) working with all kinds of methods within the natural healing field when mental health care is needed.
Deborah Williams, craniosacral therapist at Global Health Clinics, says:
”Society should allow, they should have resources for that person to be really fully supported you know, and say -oh lets celebrate, oh here you go, its your turn now you ́re having your mental breakdown or whatever, fantastic! What resources do you need? And for them to feel so fully supported in that process so that they recognize that ’this is an opportunity for transformation, its not the end of the world.”
The holistic approach when treating mental health conditions is surely necessary. This I know through my own experience after 6 years as a client within psychiatry. The interviewed practitioners at GHC agree that it is a question of time. A reconstruction of society based on a holistic/pluralistic ontology is needed to create a multidimensional understanding of the human and life, then institutions can operate through this perspective and we might reach a constructive mental health care. You never know. When asking one of the practicioners if it could become a reality to work transdisciplinary and offer alternative treatments within psychiatry in the future, the reply I got was:
”I’d like to think so, I think it’s, if anywhere – It will happen here. I think it will happen here but it’s a matter of when and may not be in my working life time, might be further in the future. People like me and John and all others members in this clinic, I think we are the ones that are going to pave the way for its recognition and intergration in the future.” – Marianne Stobie, naturopath and medical herbalist.
I do recommend everyone with any sort of health related issue to give Global Health Clinics a visit. It will definitely be worth your while!