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Float Therapy is gaining in popularity in therapeutic and holistic treatment circles. What exactly is float therapy, and can it really help you?

What Is Float Therapy?

Float Therapy, otherwise known as Sensory Deprivation, was initially developed in the 1950s by neuropsychiatrist John C. Lilly, but until recently was largely dismissed as a “hippie fad”. Floating involves floating on your back in a tank full of water. But not just regular tap water- the water in float tanks typically is infused with about 2000 lbs of epsom salts- creating a saltwater more potent than that of the dead sea- which suspends the user and gives a feeling of true weightlessness. The water is heated to the temperature of the skin, and the tank is completely dark, hence the term “sensory deprivation”.

Evidence to Support Float Therapy

The anecdotal evidence is clear. A quick Google search will reveal countless personal experiences with sensory deprivation flotation, with users claiming that their time in the tank provided incredible (and immediate) benefits such as inducing a meditative state, pain management, moderation of anxiety and depression, and lower blood pressure. It has been used to treat a range of conditions, including stress, muscular pain, addiction, fibromyalgia, ADHD and autism spectrum disorders. Recently, neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein sat down with Time magazine to discuss his efforts to better quantify float therapy’s effects on the brain. His facility, the Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has a custom-built float tank. Participants wear waterproof sensors during their float session, that allow researchers there to monitor their brain waves. Preliminary data show dampened activity in the amygdala following float sessions, resulting in reduced anxiety comparable to prescription drugs and meditation. Studies have also shown that floating produces a reduce in levels of cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the body.

Try Floating!

While more research certainly needs to be done, the documented benefits of floating for meditation and reduction in anxiety/depression make this just one more option that may be beneficial in a program of holistic addiction recovery. Locations can be found here or with a quick Google search, and hour-long sessions typically range from $50-100. For more information, see:

Share Your Experience

Have you done float therapy? Did it work for you? Tell us about it in the comments below!