To use the vernacular from the world of architecture, of which I am a member, the spa experience is ‘designed’ to be a healing transformation of the mind, body and soul. Many alternative healing techniques are being incorporated into today’s conventional medical facilities. MoranDownes Architecture, for example, recently completed the design of a spa-like cancer care center in Scottsdale, Arizona. This facility will offer many of the services found in day spas including massage therapy, mani-pedi services, hair salon services and even acupuncture.
Offering Psycho- As Well As Massage Therapy
But, what of integrating today’s conventional medicine into spas? In particular, I speak of conventional mental healing approaches. Recently, I visited a wellness resort in Asia with the intention of discovering whether the mind is truly a focus in the healing process. And, while there were massage therapists and body coaches a-plenty, none dealt with the mind. Many of the issues plaguing those with body and lifestyle imbalances are mind-based.
Prescriptions for the Body and Soul, But None for the Mind
Whether it’s a day spa or a three-, five- or 11-day retreat, a guest will select those activities that will promote better lifestyle choices for the future. Upon completion of a wellness stay, one is likely given the ‘tools’ to take home to make healthier eating choices, e.g. lists of diet pitfalls, healthy recipes, directory of medicinal herbs and produce, etc. In addition, one can experience beginners classes in body enrichment therapies such as nautilus, weight lifting, Thai boxing and Tai Chi. Again, these can be incorporated into one’s lifestyle after the stay.
To connect with the soul, a guest can be introduced to meditation techniques and past-life soul examination. Upon return, if the individual wants to pursue or improve their meditation techniques, classes are readily available one-on-one, at meditation clinics or salons, at recreation centers and even community colleges.
Root Cause Analysis
In order to alter the imbalance of a person’s body and soul, one must approach the root of the problem — in the mind. It has been hypothesized that the mind/body connection is so strong, it can alter a person’s physical DNA. According to chemist David Hamilton, “There is a whole branch of medicine called psycho-neuro-immunology, which studies the effect of thoughts and emotions on our biochemistry. The biochemistry is intimately connected with the DNA, so if these biologichemical components are affected by thoughts and emotions, then thoughts and emotions must also affect our DNA.”
If the mind can modify DNA, it can certainly alter healing progression from a mind condition such as depression. Depression, in varying degrees, can stem from causes relating to physical and/or emotional abuse, grief, stress, and family history to name a few. The object is to understand and analyze the root cause of the mind condition. Once that is separated, it can be addressed, and real mind/body/soul transformation can take place. This ‘peeling of the onion’ can only be done with the help of a mental health or psycho therapists, those trained in this specialized medical field and equipped to handle the possible side-affects of such introductory in-depth analysis.
Mental Health Therapists as Staff Members
Google ‘psychotherapy and spa’ and you get only a hand full of spas with mental health clinicians on staff, one being Mind-Spas in Sarasota Springs, Florida. Another is Mineral Essence, a day spa in Newport, Tennessee. Yet another wellness center that combines the Ayurvedic experience with holistic healing is Ayurzona in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Meghana Thanki holds a degree in naturopathic medicine while Dr. Purnima Mehta has a degree in psychiatry.
“It’s relatively easy to introduce the concept of mental health in a spa setting,” says Lena Matheos, a mental health specialist. “During an introductory session, in a relaxed setting like a spa, the guest can start the ball rolling to mental health wellness by learning techniques that are similar to an individual therapy session. These would include eclectic methods to analyze and correct distortions through the method of self-talk. Self-talk allows one to distinguish irrational beliefs, challenge these beliefs, and replace them with rational ones. The self-talk system gives individuals a great tool to take with them and utilize daily to alter unwanted behavior without the constant need for professional help. Of course, individuals may hit roadblocks or areas in which they get stuck and may need additional assistance in figuring out the original belief that is causing a certain problem, so the door to additional sessions should always be left open and recurring.”
Weekly access to a favored clinician is most likely one reason to offer this service in a day spa. Though the potential for repeat clientele is not as likely, the referrals from guests visiting a long-stay retreat can be well worth adding a mental health expert to your staff. The goal for any long-stay spa resort/retreat should be the prospect for a mind-body-soul transformation. The transformation does not have to be total. It can begin with a stay at the resort. And, at the end of the stay, the guest is handed a prescription for better health including a recommendation to see a mental health specialist that works with their specific emotional issues.
Whether in a day, resort or wellness spa, the mental healing service can truly benefit those in need of a mind makeover. And, presented correctly, it can be a new market niche and cash stream for the spa. The object is to promote it as a value-added service and part of the holistic experience.
When creating spa spaces, designers include various components from a menu of services to ensure that the visitor’s stay is a healthy, comfortable and memorable experience. We make certain a healing environment is created with the optimal program, space and landscape plan designed for the guest. When designing a menu of spa services, similar considerations should be made to ensure the right program is in place for your guest. Offering mind analysis and healing techniques as part of your spa’s menu list broadens the potential for true healing to take place. It is a holistic mind, body, soul approach that fosters the promise for an unforgettable experience.
Gregoria A. Moran of Monarch Global Marketing + Design is a consultant for Amy McDonald and Associates
Story by Gregoria A. Moran
Gregoria A. Moran Bio
“Today, with the incredible amounts of information we’ve gathered from Mother Earth, astonishing tools never before realized and human awareness at its most heightened level, we have an opportunity and capacity to create enriching environments for people and ecosystems … all that’s needed is drive!”
— Gregoria A. Moran
Gregoria has over 19 years experience in the promotions, special events, marketing and publicity for the sustainability, architecture, spa and hospitality markets. Gregoria began her career in public relations in Washington, D.C. marketing for the Environmental Protection Agency and volunteering for United Nations Environment Program and Friends of the Earth. After years in D.C., she moved westward to Scottsdale, Arizona to develop marketing strategies for architectural firms.
Together with founder and architectural visionary A. Paul Moran, Gregoria helped establish Moran Architects as a preeminent leader in sustainable and regenerative design and spa architecture. As president of this world-renowned architectural firm, Gregoria furthered the cause and legacy of Paul Moran, working to find solutions that meet the needs of today’s generation without compromising the requirements of the future.
Today, Gregoria sets her sights on advancing the guiding principal of sustainable design for healthy living in spa and hospitality architecture worldwide. Understanding the incredible benefits of a spa lifestyle, Gregoria concentrates her efforts in promoting sustainable spa existence in the hospitality, health and wellness arenas. And, she remains committed to campaigning for reducing the environmental impact of design while enhancing the living experience through design.
In addition, Gregoria is a leader in brand imaging. She offers full-service marketing and public relations.