At Sensei Porcupine Creek in the mountains of Rancho Mirage, California, evidence-based healing has become a foundation of the property’s wellness philosophy, and some packages, including the Guided Wellness Experience, see guests paired with personal guides who hold PhDs in psychology and provide private, one-on-one sessions.
Preidlhof, an award-winning wellness resort in northern Italy, bills itself as a “healing hotel,” offering five, six, and 10-day retreats focused on helping guests with unlocking and releasing trauma. Renowned trauma healer Stefano Battiglio is on staff, as is an in-house psychologist who teaches classes on mindful eating and yoga nidra, and a medical doctor who uses biofeedback to help guests understand how their state of stress affects their body.
“This has been my passion for the last 18 years,” says Patrizia Bortolin, Wellness Project Manager and Director at Preidlhof. “And now everybody is in need and asking for this kind of approach.”
Lingering stigmas continue to deter some travelers from seeking help for mental health issues, specialists say. So the integration of tourism and psychological care, at a time of increased need, is particularly powerful.
“Some of our guests, who normally don’t talk about their issues, want someone to discuss them with,” says Cinthya Molina, an in-house psychologist at SHA Wellness Clinic, a resort in Alicante, Spain. At SHA, guests can choose from a number of mental health programs, including a psychological consultation and an emotional coaching session. Those two services, Molina notes, are identical. But for some guests, simply labeling their experience as a coaching session and nixing the word “psychology” helps ease them into the process.
Travelers who are experiencing mental health crises should not consider hotel-based treatments as a substitute for clinical psychological care, and those who feel they may be a risk to themselves or others should reach out to crisis centers and trained psychotherapists for help. But when it comes to lowering stress, increasing happiness, and widening the circle of care for the public’s mental health, hotels can offer a convenient, well-positioned catchall.
“The emotional coaching is for people who might be embarrassed to ask for help,” says Molina. “So they say, ‘I want to see a coach.’ And I say, ‘Ok! I’m a psychologist.’ But if they prefer that I call myself a coach, that’s fine,” says Molina. “It’s really nice that we have this wellness space to put into practice the things that we are trying to teach.”