The Healing Power of Touch
For Emotional Healing: Body Psychotherapy continued...
Body psychotherapy can even help with something as basic as poor posture.
For example, if a woman is depressed from the breakup of her marriage, she may
not have enough energy to even sit up straight — and that in itself can put
stress on the body and contribute to her depression, says Nicole Dockter, a San
Diego bioenergetic therapist. Through bioenergetics, she can unblock tension
and learn a new way of sitting, walking, and carrying herself to feel more
centered and secure, which may also help her begin to heal emotionally.
To find a body psychotherapy practitioner, log on to the United
States Association for Body Psychotherapy Website at usabp.org. Ask for an
initial meeting to talk through the practitioner’s approach and make sure
you’re comfortable and feel a rapport. A session can range from $85 to $250;
insurance may cover part of the cost if your practitioner is licensed. If
you’re already seeing a psychologist or other talk therapist, be sure to
discuss your plans to add body psychotherapy to your care.
For Easing Your Pain: Physical Therapy
What it is: After an injury or illness, physical therapy (PT) can
help you learn better ways to stand, walk, and move. Sessions may include
loosening specific joints, working the soft tissue around joints, and offering
guidance about proper movement patterns.
Why try it? Physical therapy treats and prevents a wide variety of
conditions, including lower-back pain and problems resulting from accidents,
surgery, or sports in-juries. One recent study found that those who did PT
following breast cancer surgery had significantly less pain, improved shoulder
function, and better quality of life than those who only received a leaflet
with exercises to do at home. You could also see a physical therapist if you
haven’t exercised regularly — or not for a long time — and are considering a
fitness program and want to ward off injuries.
A physical therapist plays detective to figure out what about your body or
movement pattern is causing the pain. Let’s say your shoulder aches after a car
accident. Your physical therapist will consider what happened during the
accident, but will also look at your joint mobility, posture, body strength,
flexibility, and soft tissue tone and texture to develop the right plan for
you. Six months after her daughter was born, 37-year-old marathon-runner Sarah
Lee of Arlington, VA, started to feel pain in her hip, which then migrated to
her shoulder. “I thought, I’m too young for this to become a chronic problem
— this has got to stop,” recalls Lee. So Lee went to see Jennifer Gamboa, a
doctor of physical therapy in Arlington. Gamboa determined that Lee’s ribs
expanded when she was pregnant and hadn’t returned to their normal position
after the baby was born, which contributed to pain elsewhere. So Gamboa
gradually worked the ribs back into place by stretching the tissue between them
as well as the area where they connect to the spine; this technique helped
improve the ribs’ mobility so that they could fully descend during