PTSD Professional Perspective: Neuro-Sensory Reflex Integration
Posted Apr 08 2011 8:15am
Dance played a big role in my recovery . There was something about learning to make my mind and body both be in the present moment at the same time, and work together just to live, not survive, that brought me enormous control and integration.
In addition to the mind-meld, I received another gift from learning to dance: I met terrific people who had no clue about me or PTSD. They just knew me as a dancer, not a survivor, which was very refreshing. I’ve built some terrific friendships, including today’s guest post interviewee who is not only a wonderful Argentine tango dancer, but also a cutting-edge massage therapist. Often in the ballroom Nicole Dyk and I get into great conversations about how to help those who have suffered. In the work we both do we strive to help people feel better.
Recently, Nicole was telling me about a new process she’s been trained in, one that has particular resonance for trauma survivors. I asked her to answer a few questions so we could share the process with you….
1. What is Neuro-Sensory Reflex Integration?
Neuro-sensory reflexes are reflexes that we are “hard wired” with, from birth or before. They are reflexive responses to specific sensory stimuli, so that we naturally protect ourselves. A classic example would be if we touch a hot stove, our hand pulls away immediately. No need to think about it. The trick is that sometimes, due to trauma or interruptions in our development, these reflexes may not be doing their job correctly. So the integration exercises of this technique are a smart and simple way to help our bodies be energy efficient, coordinated and organized. When it comes to automatic functions and reflexes, if they’re running smoothly in the background, we can put our conscious attention on fun and learning.
2. How does it work?
A practioner assists the client/patient in gentle, simple, orderly movements that train the brain to become optimally efficient. Our brains already have the “circuits” in place for our neuro-sensory reflexes. The treatment session helps to turn on the reflexes by reminding the brain of what it’s supposed to do. The practitioner makes a sensory stimulus, such as gently pulling on the patients’ arms, while the patient deliberately makes the appropriate reflexive movement, which in this case would be pulling back. It’s all done very gently, slowly, and repetitively. The exercises are not for strength, just to teach/remind the brain of the correct movements.
3. What are the benefits?
Anyone can benefit. Reflex integration supports a feeling of happy calm, improved coordination, better ability to focus, and an inner sense of intelligence and success. Reflex integration supports that inner knowing that things can be or are supposed to be better in our lives. That idea, “I always knew I could/should be able to …”
4. How could it help someone healing trauma?
Our bodies always express the trauma we’ve experienced, in one way or another, until the trauma is healed. One of the impacts of trauma on the body is that the ”circuits” of our natural reflexes can get inadvertently interrupted or ”switched off”. If the reflexes are not working correctly, we have to work very hard just to maintain daily safety, and there is very little “computing” power left in our brains for creativity, and learning. All systems become preoccupied with survival. We may not even realize how much effort goes into basic daily functioning. Reflex integration supports resetting the circuits for energy efficient and balanced well being.
5. Where can people find more information and/or a local practitioner?