Flower Essences in Cost Rica:
Although flower essences are widely known and easily accessible in Costa Rica, Dr. Kristin Holthuis reported on a major breakthrough with the Costa Rican government supporting the inclusion of flower essence therapy in shelters through PANI (Patronato Nacional de Infancia), the National Institute for Child Protection Services in Costa Rica. A pilot project was approved in 2016, and Dr. Holthuis sent a report of the results to the Flower Essence Society Spanish-Language Symposium, held in June 2017.
According to the first ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study, a large study by Kaiser Permanente and the USA Centers for Disease Control, there is a substantial negative impact of traumas experienced in childhood on their physical and emotional health throughout life.
The ACE study takes into account the following situations, which are common in the lives of young people living in state shelters:
This first ACE study, and many studies afterwards, showed that there is a direct relationship between adverse events in childhood and health problems throughout life, as illustrated in this chart:
For instance, people who self-identify with at least six adverse experiences in childhood are at greater risk of:
Dr. Holthuis believes that the effective and timely approach to deal with the impact of emotional trauma should be an absolute priority in public health, throughout the health care system, in schools, in child protection institutions, in households, NGOs and in organized communities.
After more than ten years’ experiences with the use of Flower Essences and Energy Psychology modalities for many physical and emotional situations, Dr. Holthuis recommends including these therapies as an integrative part of interventions for treating emotional upset and multiple consequences of trauma for children, adolescents and adults.
Objectives and Goals of the Pilot Project
The complementary and integrative therapies used in the project
Results and testimonials of the project
Flower essences for emergencies
For acute situations, the children in the pilot project received a combination of Five-Flower Formula (Rescue Remedy) with Arnica. This combination was selected with the intention to elicit calm and stability in situations of shock, stress, panic, anxiety, aggression, trauma, pain, conflicts and other situations causing acute stress.
Dr. Holthuis reported that 85% of shelter staff in the pilot project used flower essences for emergency situations.
In interviews with the caregivers and mental health professionals they reported on their experiences using flower essences with children in emergency situations:
Personalized Flower Essence Therapy
In order to prepare the customized formulas, the following information was taken into account:
Testimonials of some of the children and adolescents who took flower essence therapy for 3-4 months
A 10-year-old boy
This boy took flower essences for four months for guilt, sadness, anxiety from painful memories, irritability, hyper vigilance, frequent conflicts, problems with exams at school.
Formula 1: Red Chestnut, Pine, Gentian, Mariposa Lily, Rescue, Delph (PHI essences)
Here is what he had to say about his experience:
“I am ten years old. I have been living in this shelter for 6 years. When I was separated from my Mom I felt that I was a piece of trash for the world, but a young lady told me that I was not a piece of trash for the world because I had some gifts and could become a professional. But I didn’t believe her.
“I took some flower drops and that started to do me good and to help me. Then the lady asked me, “Are you still feeling like a piece of trash?” And I said to her that since I took those flower drops I began to feel that I am not that anymore because I can become a professional if I want to and if I make the effort. I want to have a good job because now I know that I am not a piece of trash for the world. I can do things, I have a value and I can be of good use to my Mom in all that she might need in the future. Thank you very much.”
Listen to his testimony (in Spanish) here
An 8-year-old girl who lived in shelters most of her life
This girl was reported for many outbursts of anger. She also mentioned that she felt sadness, anxiety, irritability, insomnia and concentration problems.
Interview after 4 months:
An 11-year-old boy, in a shelter from 2 years of age
His self-reported situation before taking flower essences was: sadness, laziness to study, anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia, recurrent fights in foster home and misbehavior at school.
Interview after 4 months:
A 15-year-old teenage mother
This young person reported a family history involving suicide by her father, and her stepfather dying in an accident. At 13 years old she was raped by a group of boys and then suffered another rape by an unknown older man. She got pregnant at the age of 14. Her one-year-old son is frequently ill.
She reports feeling shy, hopeless, fearful and insecure. She suffers from insomnia and frequent nightmares. She says "I want to die, I only live for my son," showing a lot of sadness and hopelessness, crying a lot and says she feels often intimidated by the other girls.
Formula 1: Rescue, Sweet Chestnut, Gentian, Larch, Centaury, Mimulus, Red Chestnut
Dr. Holthuis noted many changes during an interview after one month. She entered the interview room smiling broadly, and appeared different physically than she had one month earlier, to the point of almost not being recognizable.
She says: "I do not know what you put in these drops but I feel superb; I do not cry any more. I put limits on the other girls; I do not run away from situations, I fight for my rights. It seems that everything flows. I do not worry so much any more. I feel happy, and that feels so strange.”
After two months, there was much anger for everything that happened and the formula was successfully adjusted.
Energy Psychology Modalities
Dr. Holthuis combines Energy Psychology techniques with the use of flower essence therapy. In this project, two “tapping techniques” from the field of Energy Psychology were included: EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and TTT (Trauma Tapping Technique). Follow this link to read more about the use of Energy Psychology techniques in the project.
A New Expanded Program Approved in 2017
After receiving positive results from the use of flower essences with foster residents in a pilot project in 2016 in the Limon province of Costa Rica, Dr. Holthuis’s program is currently being implemented in 2017 in 29 of the shelters in Costa Rica that are directly managed by the PANI.
On June 22, 2017, Dr. Holthuis signed an agreement with PANI for an expanded program. 130 caregivers and mental health staff of the PANI are currently being trained in various methods for managing emotions in the after effects of trauma.
Signing of the contract, with PANI’s lawyer, Omar Badilla
All the shelters included in the program are being provided with emergency flower essence therapy. There will be individualized treatment for 60 juveniles, with another 45 in personal consultation.
Caregivers during training doing the “power-pose” in the 2017
The recipients from the 2017 project, currently in the state of implementation, are given an enriched flower essence formula for emergency situations, comprised of:
Thousand roses (Monochaetum vulcanicum).
If you'd like more information about the pilot project, ongoing treatment in the shelters, or to donate to help make future projects possible, please contact Dr. Kristin Holthuis by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristin Holthuis, MD, is a Dutch Family Physician who has lived and worked in Costa Rica for over 20 years. She has integrated Flower Essences and Energy Psychology for her holistic medical practice. As a trainer in various Energy Psychology modalities (See ACEP Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology). She loves to inspire health care professionals to make healthcare more human, sacred, personalized and efficient by integrating complementary and integrative treatments. She is the founding Director of the IIPE: International Institute for Energy Psychology.
This article was adapted from a presentation created for the Flower Essence Society Spanish-Language Symposium, June 2017. Special thanks to Lori Hops, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and Reiki master, for reviewing earlier drafts of this article.
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