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LIFE QUALITY RESOURCES

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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

Learning How to Relax

Brian is a “man’s-man.” A construction worker in his 40s, Brian is the kind of guy who watches sports to relax and whose jobs consist of climbing ladders, lifting heavy beams, and using power tools. What Brian is not is a guy who had ever given two thoughts to the idea of mindful relaxation—the therapeutic and rehabilitating practice of intentionally quieting the mind, body, and soul. Then, Brian incurred a work-related accident, resulting in multiple fractures, the worst of which were facial bones.

Dr. Dan Chartier

“Brian had been in incredible pain ever since his accident,” Dr. Lucy Chartier recalls. “He had been through many treatments including surgery and physical therapy, but those had only gotten him so far. When he came to me he was stuck in his progress towards healing, and still in tremendous daily pain.”

A psychiatric nurse practitioner with a PhD in psychology, Dr. Chartier is co-owner of Life Quality Resources with her husband, Dr. Dan Chartier, a  psychologist/health service provider. In addition to traditional psychological services, the Drs. Chartier specialize in methods of self-regulation—such as biofeedback and neurofeedback—to help patients overcome everything from pain syndromes like Brian’s, to treatment resistant depression, ADHD, and panic disorders.

Dr. Lucy Chartier

“Brian had been on opiates to help control the pain he experienced every day,” Dr. Lucy Chartier continues, “but the side effects of the medication were interfering with his life. Although opiates dulled the pain, the sedation and mental clouding they caused meant he was unable to perform the duties of his job. Often, he would suffer through the day and wait to take the medications until he got home in the evening, but then would have difficulty waking up in the mornings, still groggy from the effects of the drugs taken right at bedtime.”

So, using biofeedback and guided imagery, she introduced Brian to the process of mindful relaxation.

Relaxation: The Path to Rehabilitation

“Typically, the patients we see often have some kind of pain, brain injury, or disability,” Dr. Dan Chartier notes, describing the work they do with patients like Brian. “The patients are often referred to us by their physician or by workers’ compensation, or they find us on their own after more traditional treatments and medications have failed to help. They come to us because they need help to restore their sense of well-being.

“Our process involves all three Rs that are the topic of discussion here today,” he notes. “Through biofeedback, neurofeedback, and other therapeutic and psychological services, our goal is to help our patients restore the natural ability to relax and heal. From a physical standpoint, this looks like helping a patient tune in to the pain, the tension they’re carrying in their head, shoulders, jaw, or back. Very often, people are completely unaware of the way they are holding on, tightening up, bracing against pain in an effort to control it, when, in fact, these unconscious defense mechanisms are contributing to and worsening the situation. As they learn the skills of guided relaxation, allowing the release of muscles and the re-regulation of the autonomic nervous system, the body is finally able to begin to heal, setting them on the path to rehabilitation.”

For those dealing with psychological pain—severe depression for example—Dr. Dan Chartier says the goal is the same, although the therapeutic approach is slightly different. “For these clients we aren’t so much attempting to relax the brain as we are trying to activate it. In this case, we are more interested in helping to engage the frontal lobes, in temporal functionality, to quiet down the associational reflex-type of thinking causing one to spin off into anxiety and worry. Again, as these inhibitory circuits in the brain are activated to function properly, real progress towards rehabilitation can begin.”

Rehabilitation; the Path to Rejuvenation

To Brian, the explanations of biofeedback and relaxation felt like a foreign language, but he was open to leaning about self-regulation because, frankly, he thought he had exhausted other options. “Brian was skeptical,” Dr. Lucy Chartier remembers of their initial visit. “I never really know how things are going to go when someone comes in that mental state, because this work requires more than just physically showing up. It requires an investment of the self, a commitment to do the work with an open heart and an open mind. The mind is incredibly powerful and has a lot of control over the body and how it responds.

“The very first time I did guided relaxation with Brian,” she recalls, smiling, he ended the 20-minute process with tears of relief in his eyes.

“Guided relaxation,” she explains, “is a process using biofeedback that invited him to get very still, get very quiet, and to pay attention to his body, not just his pain. He said he had never had an experience like that in his life. For the first time, he said, he had awareness of the subliminal tension he was holding on to—so much tension he had been completely unaware of. Over the course of the appointment, as he released more and more deeply, letting all those little muscle bundles and fibers go, he achieved a release that he hadn’t experienced since the accident. At the end of that appointment, Brian reported being completely free of pain.

“It’s true,” notes Dr. Lucy Chartier, “that Brian was not suddenly and miraculously cured of his pain forever. Mastering his new self-relaxation skills would take practice and repetition, just as mastering any new skill does. However, the experience demonstrated the measure of control he could exert over his situation, and what he could accomplish as he practiced these skills and integrated them into his every day life.

“Brian reported that experience to be completely unique to anything he’d experienced before, not just since the accident, but in his entire life,” Dr. Lucy Chartier says. “He felt like something in his consciousness had shifted. That is how relaxation leads to rehabilitation, and by the same token and using the same skills, how rehabilitation leads to rejuvenation.”