At The Center for Health and Well-Being , Quiet Awakening is used as an innovative approach to psychotherapy. The approach is a combination of techniques, structured in a way that gently guides patients toward healing of the mind, body, and spirit. The essential feature of the Quiet Awakening approach is the creation of different levels of relaxation and focus through a series of structured therapeutic experiences.
The first step in the process begins as the patient enters the therapist’s foyer, lobby, or waiting room, all of which is considered “therapeutic space.” This space is designed to include aspects of a natural environment like waterfalls and fishpond and to include aromatherapy. The waiting area is furnished comfortably to help patients relax prior to their therapy session and includes a comfortable sofa, upholstered chairs, a recliner, and a bookcase with appropriate reading material. This area serves as a resource center and/or library. The waiting area is also equipped with audio equipment which provides quiet music on a continual basis. Creating this peaceful environment begins the process of quieting the mind/body of the patient and prepares the patient for the next phase of treatment.
Each psychotherapy session consists of two parts: a 25-minute session in a relaxation room (called Complete Retreat), followed by face-to-face psychotherapy in the therapist‘s office. Each Complete Retreat room is designed to create a totally peaceful environment. The room includes soundproof walls, surround sound audio equipment, adjustable lighting, and a very comfortable leather recliner.
The first six sessions in the “relaxation room” consist of relaxation training. Before the first relaxation session, the patient watches a 15-minute video which teaches about the effects of stress on the different systems of the body, the benefits of stress management training, and diaphragmatic breathing. The patient is then led by a trained staff member to the relaxation room and is encouraged to find a comfortable position in the chair. They are given a choice of a background nature sound --- ocean, rain, mountain stream, or fire. Sounds of nature are experienced by most people as soothing and help patients to quiet their mind and focus on the relaxation training. The staff member offers to adjust the chair, lighting, and sound to the patient’s preference.
As soon as the patient is comfortable, the staff member leaves the room, and a recording of relaxation training begins to play on a second CD player. The patient is led through a 25-minute session of covert progressive muscle relaxation training, also known as a “body scan.” The exercise focuses on breathing and relaxing different muscle groups, starting with the feet and ending with the head and face. The patient is also guided to a quiet place that matches the background nature sound. This experience teaches patients a valuable technique to calm the mind/body, as well as conditioning them to the “relaxation room,” enabling them to relax quickly in subsequent sessions after being seated. Patients also become conditioned to the word “relax” to use it in their daily life to trigger the relaxation response.
The patient is encouraged to stay in the room until the therapist knocks on the door, at which time the patient and therapist go to an office for psychotherapy. Psychotherapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, supportive therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, or another appropriate mode of psychotherapy, depending on the therapist’s clinical training and the individual needs of the patient.
After undergoing the sixth session of relaxation training, the patient is given a choice of changing the script from relaxation training to another visualization exercise to complement the work they are doing in therapy. Most patients have become conditioned to the room by the sixth sessions and can relax easily upon entering the room. Numerous scripts are available. All scripts are designed to help patients work on their individual issues at a deeper level (i.e., self esteem, clearing negativity, assertiveness, inner child work, stop smoking, weight loss, managing pain, creating health, etc). During the sixth psychotherapy session, the scripts are described to the patient, who selects the script which seems most applicable to the therapeutic work they are doing. Patients work with a script until they are ready to move on to a different script, at which time the script is changed. Patients who have a more difficult time relaxing are encouraged to continue to practice the relaxation training until they are able to relax quickly after entering the room.
The Quiet Awakening approach allows patients to experience several levels of relaxation and focus. First, they enter a quiet environment designed to help them de-stress and relax from the moment they enter the therapist‘s office. Patients are encouraged to enjoy the peaceful environment and to read relevant material. Secondly, patients are taught a relaxation technique which gives them a strategy for managing stress and coping with the demands of daily life. They are guided through the experience of deep relaxation and learn to trigger the relaxation response to be used as an aid for the management of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia, and other kinds of emotional distress. Relaxation training teaches patients to center themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed. Third, patients are guided through visualizations in the privacy of the Complete Retreat room.” This enables patients to focus their attention without distraction. And fourth, patients are able to process their visualization experiences in the face-to-face therapy session.
In summary, the Quiet Awakening approach is a multi-dimensional approach to emotional healing of the mind/body. It is a structured approach which promotes healing by gradually introducing individuals to the experiences of stillness, relaxation, and introspection. The introduction begins when the person enters the therapist’s waiting area and is followed in a stepwise fashion, exposing patients to deepening levels of quiet and focus. Relaxation training and guided imagery are included as an integral part of the psychotherapeutic process. In this world of increasing stress and uncertainty, learning the skill of relaxation is essential to living a healthy life. Through a state of increasing quiet and focus, patients may begin to heal their emotional wounds and awaken to their potential.