NORTH CAROLINA TRIANGLE’S PREMIER HEALTH PUBLICATION • WITH 70,000+ HEALTH-CONSCIOUS READERS BIMONTHLY

LIFE QUALITY RESOURCES

pdf of this article

For further information about neurofeedback, biofeedback, and psychotherapeutic services offered by Drs. Dan and Lucy Chartier and their associates, contact:

LIFE QUALITY RESOURCES

5613 Duraleigh Road, #101
Raleigh, NC 27612
Telephone: (919) 782-4597
www.LifeQualityResources.org

Healing That Goes “Beyond Words”

Raleigh-based psychotherapist Dr. Dan Chartier doesn’t claim to offer cure-alls for chronic disease. Rather, he helps individuals build the necessary skills to move forward amidst difficulty.

Dr. Chartier: “Technology allows us to clearly see the distinctive patterns of brain activity for those suffering depression and other chronic mental health issues. We can also observe the healing changes in those patterns resulting from biofeedback and neurofeedback therapy.”

“When I considered the topic of ‘chronic disease’,” he says, “I found myself remem-bering one of the lyrics of the great philosopher Bob Dylan, who reminds us that ‘who’s not busy being born is busy dying.’ It would be fair to say that life itself is a chronic condition that challenges us in many ways—from the first moments of life we’re asked to make changes and to cope with different circumstances as they change.

“In my view, the fundamental issue is one of adjustment—the ability to adjust to the things that life throws at us, including chronic health conditions. And much of psychology is about helping individuals to do just that.”

Healing Tools that Connect Mind and Body

Both physical and psychological symptoms fit within the context of life experience—including life history, relationships, and stressors. And any one symptom can indicate imbalance on a number of fronts, which is why Dr. Chartier and his associates at Life Quality Resources employ a variety of tools.

These tools link what is happening at a mental/emotional level with objective, physical effects, in what Dr. Chartier characterizes as “a process of moving beyond words to objective physical realities, where healing work can occur.” Biofeedback, neurofeedback, and a relatively new intervention called Nexalin TES—together with psychotherapy—can help people develop new and healthier patterns.

A Story of Pain Buried

Some years ago, Dr. Chartier worked with a gentleman in his seventies, whom we’ll call Robert, to address hypertension. “He was a successful attorney, physically fit, exercised, ate right—all the things you would want a person to do. But his blood pressure had been creep-ing up into the hypertension range,” recounts Dr. Chartier. “Through biofeedback training, Robert managed to raise his peripheral temperatures, but they kept plateauing just shy of the target for blood pressure reduction.

“After a couple of sessions of getting stuck, I asked him what he was noticing, and he identified a feeling of tension in his solar plexus. I asked him to breathe focusing on that sensation. Within a few breaths, he began to sob—and then his breathing smoothed out into a more flowing, relaxed breath, and his peripheral temper-ature finally reached the target.

“When I asked Robert to talk about what had just happened, he recounted an experience when he was six years old, living on a farm. He had raised a dog from a puppy, but when the puppy grew up it had started killing chickens and Robert’s father had been unable to break this dog of this habit. So, the dad took the boy, the dog, and a shotgun out behind the barn and, in the presence of his son, killed his dog. The father was trying to teach his son a lesson on farming— admittedly heavy-handedly. He told Robert ‘we depend on these animals for our food; we can’t have our pets killing our food. Don’t cry.’ That was the key. The six-year-old had started to cry, and his father had said, ‘Stop it. You will not cry about this. This is a lesson in life on the farm. If you cry another tear, I will beat you.’

“And 70 years later, that unfinished grief still resided deeply inside this otherwise very-success-ful adult until a recent family dispute had triggered similar pain—which is when his blood pressure began to climb.

“This is not an unusual story,” says Dr. Chartier, “but it’s a powerful example of how people can benefit from understanding phys-ical reflections of their uncons-cious, negative patterns—and begin the process of releasing them and moving forward.”

Many such patterns are driven by the hypothalamus-directed auto-nomic nervous system (ANS), which regulates major bodily functions such as heart rate, breathing, and digestion. “Biofeedback,” Dr. Chartier explains, “helps people adjust these bodily reactions by allowing us to see where they’re getting off course. And by learning to control these reactions, they are able to develop new, healthier patterns.”

The benefits can be significant, he notes. Studies have shown that a person can reduce blood pressure by as many as 15 points, simply by relaxing their ANS sufficiently to raise peripheral fingertip and toe tip temperatures to a target temperature range. Similarly, releasing tension in the autonomic as well as the peri-pheral nervous system can reduce chronic pain.

Another therapeutic option, Nexalin TES, uses microcurrent stimulation—not to be confused with electroshock therapy—to break through negative loops in the brain. By physically disrupting the produc-tion of neuropeptides that the brain creates to encode subjective experiences, Nexalin can help individuals move past a persistent issue like anxiety or insomnia.

Depression and migraine head-aches also top the list of chronic conditions seen by Dr. Chartier and his associates. “Depression is probably the most widespread chronic illness that comes with life,” he says. “Since depression presents with specific, measurable brain patterns, working with biofeedback to balance them can drive a noticeable reduction in depression.”

With migraines, Dr. Chartier notes that it’s often not stress itself, but the response to stress that triggers the pain—so building new habits around stress response can help

The Releasing Process

Dr. Chartier explains that it typically takes three to six biofeed-back sessions to see progress with an uncomplicated issue, such as a blood pressure increase; another ten to twelve sessions will help people master the releasing process. New technologies help shorten the process, offering daily opportunities to train using smartphone aps.

“But many issues are more complex,” he notes. “Past traumas, and major stressors find their way into our bodies and are reflected in physical ailments, often many years later. (see box) These cases require more than simple biofeedback training, but biofeedback is often the starting place to understand the source of the problem. As a person uses the feedback to reduce tension—like peeling away layers in an archeological dig—they surface artifacts of personal history that have never been resolved: wounds of childhood, past relationships that failed, physical injury, or, in the worst-case scenario, traumatic experience.

“I’ve worked with people with all sorts of trauma histories that they can then link to the physical problems they’re experiencing. They may continue to hold that tension in their neck, which gives rise to muscle tension headaches; or they may fail to breathe deeply, which can increase their blood pressure. Unpacking these experiences is a key part of helping them address the chronic condition they’re experiencing.”