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1620 Riviera Ave
Walnut Creek, CA 94596


(925) 935-7500
 
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Health Medicine Center

Health Medicine Center Article
 
Beyond Psychotherapy:
The Applications of Mind-Body Medicine
 
In 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.

The major 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.

The Mind-Body Dynamic
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.

Bodywork, in 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 long term.

   
   
   

Health Medicine Center
1620 Riviera Ave
Walnut Creek, CA  94596

Tel: (925) 935-7500
FAX: (925) 935-7770