EMDR and Zero Balancing
Effective Mind/Body Approaches to Releasing Trauma
Zero Balancing Teacher Verilee Herpich and students.
Kimberly Rodgers, a licensed clinical social worker and owner of Monarch Therapy, LLC, is as passionate about Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) as she is about sand tray therapy, which she uses to facilitate her clients’ healing process. While sand tray therapy uses the power of symbols, EMDR employs visual, auditory or tactile bilateral stimulation to get both hemispheres of the brain to communicate and process and integrate information. Rodgers frequently uses both approaches with patients who have experienced trauma.
“What one person considers as a perceived threat to their safety, another may not,” says Rodgers, who points out that anyone who feels “crazy,” because others do not understand what they are feeling, can find a way to function again with EMDR, an evidenced-based therapy that the American Psychiatric Association recommends as one of the most effective forms of treatment for trauma.
According to Rodgers, when someone experiences trauma, the memory of the event often gets stuck in a part of the brain that is not accessible for effective processing. As a result, when the memory is triggered by anything that reminds the person of the trauma—an anniversary date of the trauma or seeing someone who resembles the person who caused it—the individuals feels like they are reliving the experience, with the same thoughts, feelings, sounds, tastes, body sensations and visual images that occurred during the actual event.
“The brain often gets confused into thinking the trauma is still occurring,” explains Rodgers. “EMDR accesses the brain’s right and left hemispheres and gets them to work together, just as I do with sand tray therapy, and the information is processed and integrated.”
EMDR, which helps people process at a deeper level than traditional talk therapy, can result in seeing trauma from a different perspective: as merely a memory or event that occurred, rather than as their identity. “Although the release of false negative thoughts imprinted with the trauma allows for living more fully in the present, it does not change the past or erase the memory, but allows the person to look at it from a different angle, with less self-defeating thoughts and a more positive belief system,” Rodgers explains.
In addition to treating trauma, EMDR has proven to be highly effective for other forms of anxiety, stress, substance abuse and other life challenges or feeling stuck.
Dr. Fritz Smith, an osteopathic physician, is also interested in helping the body to release tension and trauma. In a 2009 interview with Massage & Bodywork magazine, the creator of Zero Balancing explained the release of trauma from an energetic perspective. “We have come to understand that energy is consciousness, that vibration holds information and that energy is a basic building block of our bodies,” said Smith.
His approach balances the relationship of energy and structure in the body/mind with a comfortable, deep touch called “interface,” which creates a clear place of contact so that both client and practitioner are present, attentive and in the moment. For the practitioner, who remains clearly aware, and the client, who enters into a state of expanded consciousness, Zero Balancing can be a meditative experience, as well as an opportunity for the body/mind to reorganize and enhance health.
According to Smith’s beliefs and experience, the body can accumulate tension or trauma in tissue. Zero Balancing is focused on bone-held tension and addresses the body’s deepest, densest tissue. Using finger pressure and gentle traction on areas of tension in the bones, joints and soft tissue, the therapist creates points of balance, or interfaces, around which the body can relax and reorganize. As a clearer, stronger field of energy is brought in, the therapist can alter or release the tissue-held vibration, thus releasing held memory and old trauma.
Smith explains that, once freed from multiple places of held tensions influenced by past events, the individual is more able to live in the here and now and becomes more congruent with the moment. “Releasing nonfunctional information in the form of memory and holding patterns within bone, which represents our earliest conditioning and teaching, can be life-changing,” he advises.
Alvina Quatrano, a Naples massage therapist trained in Zero Balancing, attests to the positive effect the modality has on her clients. “A person comes away from a session knowing that they’ve been touched and altered in some way, though they may not always have the vocabulary to fully explain it,” she says.
Many individuals who have experienced sessions with Verilee Herpich, a registered nurse and licensed massage therapist, who will present a Zero Balancing II class May 2-5, describe the results in simple language. “Clients tell me all the time that they feel aligned, grounded and deeply relaxed,” advises Herpich, who notes that the modality is especially helpful for anyone going through any type of transition.
Monarch Therapy, LLC, Quail Plaza, 4500 Executive Drive, #105, Naples 34119. Call 239-687-8286 or visit MonarchTherapy.com. Visit EMDRIA.org.
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For information on a 2.5-hour February 8 introductory session on Zero Balancing at Journey Arts, at 2950 Immokalee Rd. (Winter View Court, #4), in Naples, contact Alvina Quatrano at 732-266-5276. Register for the February 24-27 Level I class, taught by Elizabeth Martin, RN, and the May 2-5 Level II, class taught by Verilee Herpich, RN, at ZeroBalancing.com. All classes are eligible for continuing education credits.