What Can A Good Couple of Therapy Hours Do? Healing the Mind-Body Split in Psychotherapy

©Core Energetics sometimes may seem miraculous. The results that can often be obtained in a short time, by a well trained and experienced therapist are truly remarkable, but when you understand Core’s basic philosophy and study the depth of the integrative techniques used, it becomes demystified. Let’s look at the following case to better understand the power of Core Energetics. Below you will read that Susanne was helped in one extended session in a way that a team of physicians had not been able to accomplish in a year. Her physicians lacked a vitally important part of the puzzle — body and emotions are one.

Susanne, an intelligent, young professional woman in her early 30’s entered my office for the first time looking miserable. She walked stiffly; shoulders squared and raised, her head gave the impression of being glued to the top of her rigid mechanical looking neck. Indeed, Susanne soon told me that she had been in an accident just about a year ago. While riding her bike, a car hit her and she was seriously injured. In fact she told me that she had been in pain for the entire year. All the time. She said that it hurt to talk, and thankfully I knew how to gather much of the information in other ways.

She had surgery that fused four of her lower cervical vertebra, C5 and 6 and C6 and 7, and had a titanium rod inserted that held her neck so she could barely bend it. Her eyes were dull, and even her hair lacked luster. She looked more than sad, she looked despairing.

Susanne, once very athletic, being accustomed to running, biking, and doing yoga, now looked emaciated with very little vital force appearing to run through her. Her once strong muscles had begun to waste away from lack of use. She had no affect and said she was on an antidepressant, prescribed by her psychiatrist, that she explained made her feel nothing. “I’m numb.” She went on to describe her hopelessness, “I feel that God has abandoned me.”

I observed her body, how she moved, breathed, and held herself. With her permission I then palpated the muscles of her upper back, neck and then her occiput — meaning I palpated the lower part of Susanne’s head as it met her neck. I felt muscles that were like steel bands, and the hard lumps of muscle tissue that had become spastic particularly at the muscle insertions near her skull. I knew this had to be very painful to the touch and Susanne flinched and yelled when I touched her fairly softly. Then I felt her jaw, another spastic area. I knew that she tightened her jaw originally to keep from crying out or shrieking rage or pain. Now spastic, her jaw tensing was out of her conscious control.

I sensed by looking at her contracted muscles and by intuition, that Susanne had been gripping the handlebars of the bike when she was struck. She held on tightly trying to keep the bike upright, so she wouldn’t fall. Almost a year later she appeared to still be holding on so she would not hit her head on the hard surface of the road. Her body had gone into survival mode as it should have, but no messages had come through later to tell her she was safe. Her upper trapezius and other levator muscles were still in shock and had never relaxed. They continued to anticipate danger and hadn’t let go for the last twelve months.

Because Susanne’s upper back, shoulder and jaw muscles particularly, had become chronically tense, and spastic, they were hurting and complaining like hell. A pain always says, “Pay attention! There is information here for you to learn about your healing”.

I asked her if she had cried after the accident, and had she gotten angry. She said no. I told her I experienced her as stuck in mid floor like an elevator that could not go up or down. If she could go down to the depths of her suffering, she could then feel her pain anger and sadness. Only then could she transform her stuck ness back into her life force. Her own life force could heal her, but not while being blocked by the tensions she was experiencing.

Each of us must go down into our depths, and feel our darkness before we experience our light, I knew. Susanne needed her metaphoric elevator to go to her basement of deep feelings before she could then take that elevator up again, see the light, and find that God had never abandoned her. It was with her fear and tension that she was blocking herself from feeling her connection to God. I knew from my own experiences in life and over 35 years of working with clients that when she unblocked her held places she would automatically re-connect with her inner and outer God.

I had Susanne kick and helped her begin to express her anger, then her rage. I was cautious to check in to see if any activity was making her neck feel worse. It did not. With my support and encouragement, Susanne let fly her rage at the woman who hit her and who had then immediately blamed her for the accident. At the end of the session I asked, “What do you experience now”? Susanne said, “I am not in any pain.” She began to cry tears of relief and newfound hope.

Session Two
When I walked into my office 5 days after our initial session, at first glance my senses told me that Susanne was feeling better. Susanne looked more alive. Her cheeks had more color; she sat more comfortably and talked more easily without the unbearable pain so visible on her face, just a short week before. One might say her spirit was returning to her.

Susanne told me her pain was diminished since last session, and that sometimes since her session she was pain free. Most importantly, she now had hope. She told me she cut her anti-depressant medication in half, and that “yesterday I cried all day. It felt really good.” She smiled genuinely over this fact. “I plan to get off the antidepressants completely”, she told me. I reminded her to check with her MD for how to safely come off her medication.

She announced that that very day was the year anniversary of her accident and that it was her day to feel. But when she started to look inside for her feelings, she said she felt good. I suggested that we start by celebrating a years passing. “Now you have turned the corner, you are getting better! I said, “You will no longer think of yourself as a women who is in pain, you are now a woman who is well, who is sometimes in pain.” Susanne repeated that fact out loud and then laughed with pleasure.

What Happened?
With help, Susanne began to release a years worth of held in fear, anger, sadness and pain. Her muscles softened, her shoulders lowered, her face brightened. Her chronically spastic muscles had hurt. Those muscles were so tight they even could pull her bones out of place – and they did. When they relaxed her pain lessened. The key to relaxing those muscles was Susanne’s finally connecting with her pain and expressing it emotionally and physically. Susanne’s muscle fibers were finally doing what they/she wanted to do for almost a year. Now they/she could begin to rest.

What Now?
Obviously Susanne still has a long way to go with her healing. If she continues in this therapy she will find resonances in her past that will explain when and why she learned to hold back her emotions with such force. Over time she will learn to let them go. She will learn to breathe spontaneously. We will work on her buried bodymind memories and free up the energies she needs for her own health. Susanne will then learn to physically and energetically stand up for herself and take control of her healing process. She will be able to let go of negative relationships in her life and replace them with healthier ones. She will discontinue seeing herself as a victim and ultimately take responsibility for each choice to breathe fully or contract.

What Therapists Need to Know to Better Help Their Clients

Therapists and Helpers need to know that body and mind are one. Therapists need education that includes how to get cues from the body that will better inform them what is happening with their client and how they can help. Core Energetics teaches how to look, sense, and feel the body for information. Core teaches how to look at the body; and sense information that is available by educated looking. Most of us are well aware that psychotherapists are not taught to really look. It may be considered rude, frightening, or perhaps too intimate.

Core Energetics teaches how to approach and touch the body with reverence; and to sense information that is available by educated touch. Psychotherapists are most often taught they should not touch their clients at all. At the very most, psychotherapists are taught that we might shake hands or perhaps, but rarely, touch a client lightly on an arm or shoulder to show empathy when he or she is feeling deep painful emotions. We are taught that otherwise touching a client can get you in big trouble. Maybe sued. Many people in the United States are pathological about touch. Many people long for touch and for some unconscious reason deny themselves or do not know how to unlearn years of teaching often caused by distortions in religious thinking. (For more information on touch read my article on Breastfeeding.)

Therapists need education about integrated health care, and psychotherapy that includes the body. What clients need is educated, clear, healing about bodymind integration. We as therapists/helpers need to learn educated empathetic touch along with a deep understanding of the fact that our bodies and minds are functionally identical. When we begin to really understand that concept within ourselves, we need to teach clients that their body mind emotions and spirit are one.

Training Available for Professionals
For further information please 
Email Info@VitallyAlive.com or call Pam at 770-388-0086.

Suggested reading:

Touching: The Human Significance of Skin, Ashley Montagu
The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, Joseph Chilton Pearce
Breastfeeding is Essential for Bio-Psycho-Spiritual Health, Pam Chubbuck, PhD
Molecules of Emotion, Candace Pert, PhD
Core Energetics, John Pierrakos, MD
Bioenergetics, Alexander Lowen, MD

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