From horse cuddles to being scraped with spoons, Charmaine Yabsley explores some of the most out-there alternative therapies available today
What is it? This is a mixture of acupuncture and hot stone therapy, which is said to combine healing and relaxation elements. “The acupuncture helps to release tension or blockages which may be causing physical or emotional issues,” rockupuncture therapist Keri Krieger says.
“This is followed by a hot stone session. Your body will then have time and space to heal and relax, and allow the acupuncture [results] to manifest.”
Good for: Stress, digestive issues, insomnia, pain, and adrenal fatigue.
Cost: From $200 for a 90-minute session.
What is it? This blends deep tissue massage with manipulation to release the body from movement habits which cause tension, dysfunction and pain. When there’s an injury to the fascia (the connective tissue that envelops different muscle groups and allows them to move), it tightens like a bandage. Even when the injury has healed, the fascia can stay in that rigid position, causing chronic pain. Rolfing works to stretch and open the fascia.
Good for: Musculoskeletal issues, arthritis and joint pain.
Cost: From $130 per 60-90-minute session; a course of 10 sessions is usually recommended.
What is it? If you’ve been hormonal, rundown and can’t shift that cold, your chakras may be out of line. According to Hindu philosophy, we have energy centres located at seven different points in our body (from the forehead to the base of the spine). At each chakra, energy channels meet and this doctrine maintains that they’re linked to our endocrine and nervous systems. When these areas are “blocked” (or “misaligned”), our health suffers. Rebalancing works through breathing techniques, visualisation, reflexology and yoga postures.
Good for: Detoxification, emotional trauma, anxiety, stress and insomnia.
Cost: $80 per one-hour session. You can also do this yourself by practising breathing through each chakra every day for 15 minutes.
What is it? Horses have been used to help returning servicemen and women adapt to civilian life, and a recent study linked this technique to assisting at-risk or troubled teenagers.
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in Queensland currently offers four different experiences – equine assisted learning, therapy, meditation and journey – and each session involves working with a horse to teach you about healthy boundaries, communication, non-verbal communication and emotional intelligence. After a session, clients are said to be able to recognise areas of their life that may need to be brought into balance. Giddy up.
Good for: PTSD, stress and boosting self-confidence.
Cost: From $175 per 60 minute session.
What is it? Dowsing uses the therapist’s intuition and a dowsing rod or pendulum to determine a client’s health, emotional or practical needs.
“You can dowse to find out which vitamins, minerals, essences or type of practitioners may help you,” Lyn Wood, of the Dowsing Society of Victoria, says. “I specialise in dowsing properties to eliminate non-beneficial energies that can lead to illness.”
Good for: Self-confidence, fatigue and insomnia.
Cost: $120 per 90-minute session; the number of sessions is determined by your health needs.
Chi Nei Tsang
What is it? Many Chinese believe that we store our emotions in our organs. This detoxifying massage, which involves firm or gentle kneading of the abdominal area, helps to release emotional and physical blockages. “This treatment can be a bit painful if you have lots of blockage, but 24 hours later you’ll feel fantastic, rejuvenated, and lighter,” Johnathon Dao, shiatsu master and chi nei tsang practitioner at the Krishna Village yoga retreat in NSW, says.
Good for: Constipation, stress, PTSD and anxiety.
Cost: $80 per 50-minute session
What is it? “If you’ve suffered shock, trauma, stress, toxins in the body, or suppressed emotions, the energetic system can become blocked or stagnant, creating illness or ailments in the physical body,” energetic healer Rachel Holm says. “A session starts with a breathing and grounding visualisation, then the healer does a ‘tune in’ and draws up a ‘mud map’ of areas that need attention. This may be a hands-on session, or my hands may work above the body.”
Good for: Stress, feeling overwhelmed or fatigue.
Cost: $110 per one-hour session, plus one hour for the tune in; several sessions may be needed.
What is it? This ancient therapeutic method is popular in China, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. “By drawing a smooth-edged instrument, such as a porcelain soup spoon, across the skin where an injury or imbalance resides, a distinctive reddening of the skin, known as ‘sha’, occurs,” gua sha therapist Bruce Bentley says. This “positive response” is said to bring the immediate and lasting benefit of reducing inflammation, tightness and pain.
Good for: Detoxifying, blood flow and healing.
Cost: From $60 per session of up to 40 minutes, which may be combined with other treatments.
What is it? This treatment involves the use of sound frequencies and combines meditation with massage and percussion and can include other therapuetic tools such as Hawaiian basalt rocks. It works with the meridians of the body, which are reflected on the face and head, and reportedly has benefits for the digestive system.
“The healing power of vibration is a unique component of this treatment,” sound therapist Petrina Tonkin says. “Using the art of drumming, the vibration reaches places deep within the body and mind at a cellular level.” It’s available at the Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in Queensland.
Good for: Stress, adrenal fatigue and digestion.
Cost: From $240 per 80-minute session.
What is it? Essentially, it’s listening to music that’s designed to calm the mind, promote new emotional habits, and help you let go of old issues.
“It’s a relaxing experience,” neuroptimal therapy patient Melinda Booth says. “You don’t have to do anything, think of anything, or have any particular issue or diagnoses. You can just relax. It’s nice to take the time to chill and do nothing.” Booth says she’s noticed that since attending sessions, she’s found new ways to respond to situations which would normally cause significant stress.
Good for: Stress, depression, anxiety insomnia and letting go of old hurts or relationship issues.
Cost: From $50 per 30-45-minute session. You can choose to do as many sessions as you need, or do top-ups.