Pain info for MDs

"Restoring unity between mind & body, between thinking & feeling, between action & attention." Dr. Danis Bois.

Dear Colleagues: I frequently work on wellness teams composed of psychologists, MFTs, psychiatrists, neurologists, acupuncturists, and other wellness professionals. If you have a client suffering from chronic pain, and/or auto-immune and psycho-somatic symptoms, my somatic approach – DBM, Somatic Trauma Therapy or both – may serve such clients in need. I welcome communication to determine if our wellness philosophies are aligned for co-working.

Pain & Somatics

Individuals in pain often feel that their bodies have failed them. They might not trust that their bodies can be a significant form of support for them. As mind and body are interconnected, the sense of living in a failing body is commonly coupled with depression, anxiety, etc. Somatic awareness cultivates perceptual tools that enable individuals to experience and query the aliveness and supportiveness of their bodies, even if experiencing extreme pain or degenerative illness. Patients learn the following:

• To discern qualities of pain & their possible meanings (sharpness, dullness, radiation, numbness, pulsations, etc.);

• To map the geography of pain areas, the points of origin & the parts of the body recruited in the expression of pain;

• To discern pain from tension & unfamiliar sensations. (Since not all sensation is pain, such knowledge is an essential tool for productive communication between doctors/therapists and patients/clients).

Mental Wellbeing & Somatics

Somatic awareness draws attention to how one’s emotional or developmental history impacts the ability to self-soothe when experiencing pain and tension. Past trauma and illness can alter one’s neurochemistry such that the ability to self-soothe, even when the threat of danger is not present, becomes difficult. As somatic and neuroscience psychologists are clinically documenting, such physiology jeopardizes healing: pain can falsely signal the presence of life threatening danger, i.e., the fight-flight response (like chronic anxiety) or the shut down response (like chronic depression). The DBM and Somatic Trauma Therapist use respectful, gentle touch to facilitate a new relationship to pain, one that cultivates a curiosity in self-soothing as a possibility, and one that encourages new neural responses to pain and stress.

These practices can be integrated into any therapeutic process, such as psychotherapeutic support and/or physician-guided pain and mood management.

Somatic Bodywork Sessions – DBM & Somatic Trauma Therapy

We use a number of tools in DBM, our primary one being a manual therapy, Fasciatherapy – done clothed and either seated or lying on a table. It gently brings awareness to bodily elements (bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, nerves, etc.) encapsulated and connected by fascia. We use an empathetic form of touch that creates a very slow, non-invasive mobilization of tissue matter, while safely facilitating a growing tolerance for diverse forms of sensation. This process, accompanied by verbal dialogue, enables the practitioner to intimately meet the whole person via the tissues. The practitioner does not “fix” the client: the practitioner’s hands simply mirror to the client, with precision, what is occurring within the tissues. The aim is to enrich the quality of a person's presence to themselves, and others, through somatic inquiry.

My somatic trauma approach – inspired by training with Kathy Kain & Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory – involves support of the autonomic nervous system. Here, empathetic, touch support attunes to embodied tensions and movement pattern restrictions. We focus on areas of the body that are efficient at constriction – the kidney-adrenal area, the area where the base of the cranium meets the cervical spine, body diaphragms and joints, and the viscera, among countless other tissue structures. This work is ideal for trauma survivors who experience difficulty being touched and/or have been resistant to cognitively-focused therapies.

Somatic Movement Classes – DBM Sensorial Re-education:

How do we accomplish 3-dimensional movement? What roles do rhythm, balance and spatial orientation play in organizing 3-dimensional movement? The eased accomplishment of any gesture involves skillful perception: right timing of our respective body parts as they move along their designated spatial planes. But our perceptual fields are not always aligned with reality. Past injuries or emotional trauma can impact choices we make as we move, causing less spinal fluidity or joint and muscle stress, for instance. As 3-dimensional movement requires that we inhabit 3 planes, simultaneously (the frontal, sagittal and transverse planes), it's not uncommon for one plane to be blocked or beyond our perceptual scope. DBM Sensorial Re-education explores slow, mindful choreography to bring awareness to those planes where we exhibit less perceptual engagement. You'll become familiar with habit and stress patterns that compensate for such avoidance. You’ll also learn to discern the difference between perceptual and structural motor limitations.

Who Should Consider DBM and/or Somatic Trauma Therapy?

Anyone suffering from chronic/acute pain that is accompanied by stress, anxiety, depression, and/or trauma.