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Non-traditional Therapies on the Menu for World AIDS Day

By Sandra Clark

Int-PractDesert AIDS Project believes in the body’s ability to care for itself and offers a variety of programs that aid that process.

World AIDS Day on December 1 was a time to remind clients, volunteers, board members, and donors that D.A.P. offers comprehensive compassionate care to treat the body and the soul. On this holiday celebrated by the AIDS service community worldwide, D.A.P. set out a buffet of mostly Eastern-inspired treatments and homeopathic remedies and invited everyone to dig in.

Ray Robertson, D.A.P manager of the Client Wellness Services Center, coordinates activities and outside traditional medicine that promote health and well-being. Along with cooking classes and emotional support groups, Ray assembled the list of treatments that include reiki, acupuncture, yoga, hypnotherapy, transformational breathing, chair yoga, and horticultural therapy. Ray says non-traditional therapies have grown dramatically since he joined D.A.P. four years ago. Prior to that, he directed a substance abuse treatment center for 20 years.

Alternative therapies seem to be popular with our clients because group and individual sessions usually are booked solid, Robertson says. “A lot of our clients believe in natural, homeopathic healing,” he explains. “They have to take lots of pills, so anything they can do that’s neither invasive nor dangerous, they really are eager to try.”

Acupuncturist Askat Ruzyev adds that some of the many medications his clients take have heavy side effects. “Acupuncture treats side effects; it doesn’t add any,” Ruzyev says.

Sometimes these remedies can lessen the depression and anxieties living with HIV and AIDS can cause. Jeffrey McCall, who has weekly acupuncture treatments, is one such client. “I was depressed and had little energy,” McCall says, while Askat gently placed needles into McCall’s left ear. “He knew what to do and how to treat it.”

Stanley Maeschen was waiting for his session while Askat worked with McCall. Maeschen compares acupuncture to “recharging the battery on a car.”

Maeschen wrestles with stress and depression and says the treatments do help him manage those challenges. “I’m not a needle person, but there’s no pain,” he says, “and, in the end, it’s worth it. It’s brought me better sleep, even better dreams. I like the direction this is going.”

Reiki master John Strobel relates that his clients say they get relief from stress when he softly places hands on and around them in order to “channel energy from the universe” and produce a meditative state. “Some people have an emotional release. Most people just find it relaxing. Someone once said it was as good as an eight-hour sleep.”

Besides offering relief from depression, stress or insomnia, non-traditional therapies are yet another way to get clients up and out and active, which can have curative powers, Robertson maintains.

“We need to be able to offer clients every opportunity to get out of the house and do something they believe will improve their health and well-being,” Robertson states. “If they’re coming here, then they’re not isolated. If their bodies are active, then their minds are active, and that’s good stuff!”

For more information visit or call (760) 323.2118.

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