What is mind-body therapy?
Also known as relaxation therapy, mind-body therapy is a group of non-invasive techniques that use the bidirectional relationship between the mind and the body to create a balance between all the body systems. This balance throughout the body is called homeostasis, and it is only at homeostasis that we are able to function optimally and most effectively. To help create and maintain this inner balance, mind-body therapy techniques focus on stress management and physical and mental relaxation.
What does the "bidirectional relationship" between our mind (our brain) and body mean? An easy way of thinking of this is how we think influences how we feel, and how we feel can influence how we think. Our brains and our body's communication with each other to influence how the other feels!
Think you have heard of mind-body therapy before? See if you can recognize any of the techniques that we offer at Isaac Physiotherapy:
- Diaphragmatic Breathing
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
- Guided Imagery
- Autogenic Training
- Mindfulness-based Meditation (Mindfulness)
How does mind-body therapy treatment work?
The goal of mind-body therapy is to target and reduce the activity of the stress response. To reduce this activity, all techniques focus on training your attention towards your body and then inducing mental relaxation.
But why the stress response? When we are stressed, there is an automatic imbalance created in our body: our "stress response" is more active than our "relaxation response." Short-term, this imbalance is beneficial, but long-term is it damaging to our mind and body, limiting function and performance. Mind-body therapy helps to rebalance our stress and relaxation systems, ensuring that stress is short-term and beneficial, rather than long-term and detrimental.
Most importantly, mind-body therapy is a complimentary therapy. While it has been found to be beneficial to those with traumatic brain injuries, anxiety, depression, and even chronic pain, the purpose of this therapy is not to replace existing treatment plans. Instead, mind-body therapy is a "team player" in your recovery; you build a tool-box of skills that can help you move through your treatment programs more efficiently.
What are the benefits?
- A non-invasive, hands-off therapy!
- You learn how to effectively manage stress
- Aids in recovery treatment
- Can help you cope with the consequences of pain (sleep disturbances, anxiety, etc.)
- You gain confidence in your physical and cognitive abilities
- Prepares you to act in the face of stress, rather than react
What is mind-body therapy comparable to?
Reported experiences from both patients and physiotherapists at Isaac Physiotherapy have shown that you can derive the same feelings of relaxation, heaviness, and stillness from mind-body therapy as from massage therapy! Whether it be to help with muscle tension, sleeping difficulties due to pain, or even the inability to slow your body down and relax, these symptoms can be alleviated with mind-body therapy training.
What can I expect for my first session? What about subsequent sessions?
The purpose of the first sessions is an introductory to what mind-body actually is and how it can help you. It also helps the therapist get to know you better and create a personalized treatment plan. Lasting one hour, you will be able to:
- learn what mind-body therapy is and how it works
- learn about the body's stress response and what triggers it
- learn how our body is effected by long-term stress
- come to understand how mind-body therapy is connected to the stress response
- discuss your stress symptoms
- learn and practice one mind-body therapy technique
Subsequent sessions focus on learning a new technique, understanding the research evidence behind it, and practicing the technique with the guidance and feedback from the therapist.
How long are sessions?
Sessions can either be one hour long or 30 minutes.
It is recommended that you book hour long sessions as you are starting your journey with mind-body therapy. This allows for enough time to learn and practice the techniques, ask questions, and discuss treatment plans with our therapist. Hour long sessions are also good if you want a deeper relaxation!
The 30 minute sessions are recommended for those who are confident in a technique and are wanting a quick session to help regulate their stress levels. Due to time restraints, you would typically not learn about a new technique in these sessions.
How many sessions does it take to 'complete' mind-body therapy treatment?
How many sessions you want to attend depends on a few factors:
- How many techniques you want to learn,
- Which techniques the therapist thinks will be useful for you,
- If you wish to continue.
At Isaac Physiotherapy, our therapist is trained in five psychologist-approved techniques. Each technique is beneficial to all patients, but the different techniques work better for some more than others. Based on your first sessions, the therapist will have created a treatment plan that consists of which techniques they believe will benefit you the most and in which order they want to train you in them.
If you want to learn each technique, then you will need to book five sessions. Our therapist will always encourage you to return and practice the technique with them until you are able to effectively practice the technique on your own. Ultimately though, it is up to you if you wish to continue.
How often do I book mind-body therapy sessions?
It is recommended that you maintain consistency in your practice of mind-body therapy until you are confident enough to practice the various techniques on your own and are able to achieve similar levels of relaxation as you do when with our therapy assistant.
For this reason, booking every 1-2 weeks will allow you to gain the required skills and abilities to effectively practice mind-body therapy.