Frontline Healing: Holistic Veteran Rehabilitation at Byron Private

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ANZAC day is a time of reflection and remembrance for many. For veterans it can also be a period of heightened emotional distress. Memories of lost mates, the weight of survival (or survivors guilt), and the lingering effects of active service can resurface, triggering grief, trauma, and a profound sense of loss. For those who have served, the scars of service can be physical but also deeply psychological.

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A Different Approach

Byron Private has a proud history of working collaboratively with the Department of Veterans Affairs to find holistic treatment options for veterans who require something different to a clinical institutional setting. Byron Private has been helping veterans for over eight years, providing a therapeutic environment and framework of care that assists veterans to recover from co-existing conditions, find a renewed sense of purpose and meaning, and rebuild healthy relationships.

Understanding the Needs of Veterans

The transition from active duty to civilian life can be challenging. Veterans may carry the burden of PTSD, anxiety, and depression at higher rates than the general civilian population. The Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme report by the Department of Veteran Affairs states:

Forty-six per cent of the Transitioned ADF were estimated to have met criteria for a lifetime anxiety disorder, and one-quarter were estimated to have met criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) specifically in their lifetime.
{Read Report}

This can be compounded by the struggle to reintegrate into community after a structured service engagement. Traditional hospital settings can provide essential medical care, which is important. Hospitals, however, may unintentionally bring to mind recollections of periods spent in hospitals recuperating from personal injuries or losses, or visiting colleagues who were physically or psychologically wounded.

Veterans face complex challenges in their transition to civilian life, including mental health issues that require specialised care.
~ Sayer et al., 2011, Journal of Traumatic Stress

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Byron Private’s Natural Surroundings Promotes Holistic Health in Rehab

At Byron Private, we recognise the need for a broader approach to recovery and healing. Our holistic rehab program encompasses psychiatric, medical, and psychological support within a restful, non-institutional green space.

Set in the hinterland of Byron, with 4 acres of green space, we can offer a sanctuary for healing. The program includes daily visits to the ocean and immersion in the natural environment. The tranquillity of our creek-side location offers a stark contrast to what can seem like harsh clinical environments. The benefits of being immersed in a natural setting can be instrumental in resetting sleep patterns, improving thinking and mood, and fostering a deeper connection with the self and the world around you.

There is extensive research supporting the association between exposure to nature and improvement in health. Specifically, how spending time in nature improves thinking, blood pressure mental health, physical activity and sleep. (Jimenez and Deville et al., 2021)

Exposure to natural environments has been also shown to reduce stress and improve mental well-being.
~ Barton & Pretty, 2010, Environmental Science & Technology

Being able to ground the self within the surrounds of nature is an important resource for veterans who are processing trauma and addressing associated anxiety and depression anxiety in individual and group sessions.

We believe in the power of a therapeutic community, where veterans can find peer support in a mixed group setting, aiding their transition into community life. Byron Private also offers a smaller mixed group therapeutic community of up to 12 residents. It differs to private hospitals where it is often a treatment program with larger groups comprised of only first responders and veterans. While some veterans may prefer this more closed community environment, other veterans may prefer a more diverse community of healing, particularly in the context of moving back into life and community.

Integrated Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Dependence, PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression

At Byron Private, our underlying treatment methodology is to provide an integrated approach to address co-occurring conditions, such as Alcohol Dependence and PTSD. An integrated approach leads to improved outcomes and reduction in anxiety/PTSD and depressive symptoms and reduces the need to self-medicate symptoms through misuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Our Treatment Protocols

Treatment protocols at Byron Private adhere to the gold standards for PTSD, including Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Exposure Therapy. We aim to soothe the nervous system, reducing anxiety and hyperarousal, and provide veterans with tools to not only manage their symptoms effectively but resolve PTSD triggers.

EMDR has been found to be an effective treatment for PTSD, helping individuals process and integrate traumatic memories.
~ Shapiro, 2018, Journal of EMDR Practice and Research

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Anti-Depressive effects of the Mediterranean Diet

An example of our holistic and integrated treatment approach at Byron Private is our focus on nutrition, specifically guided by proven benefits in depression treatments provided by a Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with a reduced risk of depression, offering a promising dietary approach for mental health.
~ Jacka et al., 2017, BMC Medicine

Also drawing on the results from the SMILES trial (Supporting the Modification of Lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States) we recognise the important link between diet and depression.

In a press release from Deakin University, Professor Felice Jacka, lead author of the trial said:

We’ve known for some time that there is a clear association between the quality of people’s diets and their risk for depression. This is the first randomised controlled trial to directly test whether improving diet quality can actually treat clinical depression.
Read Article

A research article in BMC Medicine includes the following:

These results indicate that dietary interventions could provide an efficacious and accessible treatment strategy for depression that is also cost-effective and devoid of adverse events.
Jacka et al., 2017, BMC Medicine


Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment for Veterans

Self-medication with alcohol and drugs is a common coping mechanism for veterans grappling with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. We specialise in treating co-existing issues, providing a comprehensive approach to address both mental health and substance abuse.

Integrated treatment approaches are important for addressing the co-occurrence of substance abuse and mental health disorders in veterans.

Veterans with co-morbid Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)/PTSD were more than three times as likely as veterans with PTSD only to have attempted suicide in their lifetimes.
Norman, S. B., Haller, M., Hamblen, J. L., Southwick, S. M., & Pietrzak, R. H. (2018). The burden of co-occurring alcohol use disorder and PTSD in U.S. Military veterans: Comorbidities, functioning, and suicidality. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 32(2), 224–229.

Combining treatment for mental health and addiction into an integrated program is an important therapeutic approach that we provide in a supported and relaxing natural location. Detox support can be provided by us with an Addiction Medicine Specialist and registered nurses.

Therapeutic Support for Relationships

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a major issue in relationship impairments and functioning. Veterans who are experiencing PTSD often struggle with personal relationships after leaving the Defence Force and pursuing a “normal” life. ~ Read More

To assist our patients live full, healthy and respectful lives, we focus on rebuilding and nurturing relationships as a cornerstone of our program. We offer two-day intensive family programs, as well as other shorter targeted family sessions to address relationship breakdowns and establish healthy ways of relating. Our experienced family therapists guide veterans and their families through the process of repair and re-connection.

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A Sanctuary of Support

In acknowledging the profound and ongoing struggles confronted by our esteemed veterans, Byron Private stands unwaveringly committed to providing an unparalleled sanctuary for holistic healing and seamless reintegration. We wholeheartedly invite you or your loved one to embark on a transformative journey with us. At Byron Private, our dedicated team of experts offers not just support, but a bespoke roadmap to recovery, infused with hope and backed by years of experience. Let us be your beacon of light on the path to renewed vitality and purpose.


Association between Nature Exposure and Health: A review of the Evidence.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, cited on National Library of Medicine), Jimenez, Deville, Elliot, Schiff, Wilt, Hart and James

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 May; 18(9): 4790. Published online 2021 Apr 30. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18094790