modern culture, psychotherapy is almost the norm. Despite the fact
that many people apply therapy to their lives diligently, and even
achieve a deeper understanding of their psychological issues, they
often remain “stuck in their heads,” unable to significantly change
unhealthy behavior patterns.
This dilemma is
relevant not only to the individuals who suffer (the "walking
wounded"), but also to the health care systems that fund their
treatment. We must find a better way to relieve pain and suffering
of these individuals, and must do this cost effectively.
underlying premise of “mind/body medicine” is that mind and body are
one and the same! They are inseparably connected. They each
represent a perspective of the whole person, and provide a window
through which we can gain important information about both. So, by
considering the body and mind in tandem, we create a golden
opportunity to learn how they influence one another, and how they
collectively affect our health.
At this point in time, there is a significant amount of scientific
research supporting the concept that body and mind are one. Whenever
we experience an event, we simultaneously respond both physically
and emotionally. Our body posture and breathing mechanics are
affected in a measurable way by every emotional response we have.
Put simply, we develop “holding patterns” that persist long after
the conscious mind has forgotten the original experience - they
reflect the somatic manifestations of persisting emotional residues.
One of the forms of treatment that appears to be the most effective
in releasing these "stored-in-the-body" experiences is bodywork -
certain forms of massage and breathwork. An experienced bodywork
practitioner can detect our holding patterns and carefully guide us
through the remembering process. By releasing certain tense areas
through massage, or trigger point therapy, and breathing exercises,
long forgotten experiences often surge into conscious awareness.
This style of body/mind medicine is oriented to help us feel better
physically as well as to assist us in dealing with the impact of our
somatic emotional residues at a time in our life when we are
emotionally more mature.
The “felt” meaning
of previous important emotional traumas may be re-lived during
bodywork sessions. Getting “out of our heads” and into an
experiential state can give us the opportunity to face emotional
issues that we could not deal with when they originally occurred.
Learning to be who we are, and not who we think we should be,
underlies much of this aspect of bodywork.
itself, is not psychotherapy. However, it is a powerful tool that
has the potential to help us experience important events from our
past that may be best explored under the supervision of a trained
psychologist. At the present time, the most ideal approach is for a
bodyworker and psychologist to work together. However, there is an
ever-growing trend in modern healthcare to integrate both approaches
into a single therapy. Psychologists are beginning to incorporate
massage into the scope of their practices, and bodyworkers are
training to bring psychology into their practices.
For patients who
feel stuck with their psychological and/or physical health issues,
this integrative style of therapy can provide simple and powerful
adjuncts to standard medical treatment. The proper application of
mind/body strategies, as early in the disease process as possible,
minimizes both human suffering and healthcare expenditures over the