What is Yoga Psychotherapy?
The heart of yoga psychotherapy is to address the needs of an individual on a holistic level. Yoga psychotherapy is an integration based modality that utilizes both the clinical, evidence-based treatment of psychotherapy along with the therapeutic principles of a trauma-informed yoga practice. Incorporating yoga, a transformational practice widely known for its benefits to the mind, body, and soul, has been geared towards the enhancement of our students’ overall health and well-being. This integration is beneficial, not only to students who struggle with physical issues, but those who suffer from a variety of emotional, mental health and behavioral issues as well. By combining therapeutic physical postures, breathwork, and mindfulness, our therapists are able to address the deeper aspects and needs of our students.
Our yoga therapy program is lead by girls therapeutic counselor and Yoga Faith instructor, Victoria Nolen. Victoria is a licensed, master’s level psychotherapist, certified yoga instructor, Trauma-Sensitive YogaFaith instructor and Yoga Faith 12 Step and Recovery instructor.
Yoga Psychotherapy Groups
Clinical research has shown repeatedly over the past couple of decades that in order to heal trauma the body must be a part of the treatment process. Yoga therapy is one somatic form of therapy that does this. Now, countless stories, case studies, and research exist that reflect the success of the combination of therapy and yoga – stories showing how this combination helped in creating healing, growth, transformation and overall greater well-being related to a variety of health and mental health issues, including (but not limited to) abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, and trauma.
At Shepherd’s Hill Academy, we have two girls groups that incorporate yoga and therapy.
Yoga Psychotherapy 12-Step Group
Our 12-Step Yoga Psychotherapy group is designed for those students whose diagnosis or presenting issues encompass addiction, and whose treatment includes addiction recovery and sobriety. This group takes a well-rounded, holistic approach to recovery by integrating the following evidence-based modalities: the 12 Step addiction recovery model, creative arts therapies, traditional “talk therapy” and the regulatory, mind-body techniques of yoga.
Yoga Psychotherapy Trauma-Informed Group
Our Trauma-Informed Yoga Psychotherapy group is designed for our students who have experienced any of an array of life traumas, including (but not limited to) abuse, neglect, loss, unexpected separation, attachment issues, prenatal drug exposure and a history of familial addiction. This group incorporates both the therapeutic “top-down” processing of talk therapy along with the holistic “bottom-up” body-based approach of yoga. Each group will have a focus related to acquiring grounding, regulation and relaxation skills, as well as a life skill (such as interpersonal relationships, coping through loss, etc).
Integrating Faith in Yoga
At Shepherd’s Hill Academy, our instructor teaches a faith-based form of yoga called Yoga Faith. The heart of the practice is always Christ-centered. The goal of Yoga Faith is to connect people to Christ; mind, body, soul and spirit. Teachings are centered on Biblical principles, Scripture, and meditating on the Word or worship music.
Yoga has several components, but the physical practice of yoga has been used in ancient history as a physical exercise as well as a way to prepare the mind for meditation. Meditation that we practice at Shepherd’s Hill Academy is not an “opening of the mind to let anything in.” Meditation is simply focused, mindful attention. Prayer is a form of meditation. Memorizing Scripture, prayer, and mindfulness, are all Christian forms of meditation. God’s words “Be Still and Know that I am God” is a form of meditation.
Yoga Faith Therapist, Victoria Nolen speaks to her program, “I only use interventions in therapy that I have experienced work for myself or seen success stories in others. My personal story is that I too had a history of trauma. I fully and undoubtedly believe the Lord brought me to the practice of yoga as it has been the number one healing tool in my journey (aside from the Healer Himself of course!). I have yet to find a tool that literally works on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I use Yoga Faith to continue to connect on a deeper level with God, and to maintain my physical, mental, and emotional health.”
Can Students of Outside the Christian Faith be Successful in Yoga Therapy?
Yes. Students who do not adhere to the Christian faith can be equally successful in a Yoga Therapy group. Yoga Therapy is a time of healing for the entire person. Their focus will remain on positive, calming and healing thoughts and emotions as they work to incorporate physical, mental and emotional aspects into their practice. While Yoga Faith will be the primary approach of yoga taught, students are given space to develop their own practice, regardless of background, and classes are designed to meet each student where they are in their journey.