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New program hopes to help Michiana veterans

NOW: New program hopes to help Michiana veterans

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A non-traditional therapy program hopes to teach Michiana veterans how to heal their bodies.

Starting at the end of January, the South Bend Vet Center will offer a holistic stress relief program. Coordinators believe it is one of the only organizations in the country offering this type of therapy to veterans.

Holistic stress relief focuses on creating free-flowing energy in a person’s body through energy work programs like reiki, yoga, qigong, and meditation.

Mark Henson-Bohlen, the director of the South Bend Vet Center, says each week the center counsels about 150 veterans who have experienced trauma while serving.

For years, the center focused on traditional talk therapy that tends to focus on the thoughts and mental health of a vet. However, as counselors researched trauma’s effects, they realized it also impacts the body.

“For example in a military sexual trauma, you can be talking and doing great things and really processing what we would call your stuck points,” said Henson-Bohlen. “But in reality, your body still remembers trauma. So, when somebody touches you, you remember the trauma. Holistic care therapy is where you start to feel good about the trauma.”

Colleen Kielton, the program coordinator, says when a person experiences a trauma, a person’s energy segments.

“It’s like a log in a river,” said Kielton. “It’s not going to flow as smoothly. So, it [holistic stress relief] kind of takes the log away. You process the log and then the river flows again.”

“With trauma, it’s very common to disassociate your body and not feel good about your body,” said Henson-Bohlen. “If you connect with your body again, that healing can occur.”

Henson-Bohlen and Kielton believe this program will help veterans achieve the next step in recovery and strides in their personal lives. They also add this is a great alternative for veterans who might not be open to traditional talk therapy.

The program begins January 31st and will be held at the South Bend Vet Center. Classes will be offered on Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. and Fridays from 12-2 p.m. The program is open to all Michiana veterans, not just South Bend Vet Center clients. Those interested can call 574-231-8480 or 574-231-8480

“My whole objective is to put the reins back in their hands so they know they can get in touch with themselves,” said Kielton. “So they can feel whether they’re in the right place or not or if they need more therapy in another area or they just get to know themselves and they build a relationship with themselves so they understand their indicators that they might need to address something”

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