The NeuroHealth Process
The Four Foundations of working with your FND nervous system
Body: Claiming Your Space
Functional neurological symptoms are expressions of your body. At the level of body, you may experience uncontrollable shaking, difficulty breathing, clenching, paralysis, inability to speak, or stiffening of the body. Other experiences include feeling foggy, tingly, out-of-body, numb, overtaken by a strong energy, or feeling trapped in his or her body.
Within the Foundation of Body you will discover how to listen more deeply to your body, identify and stay present with physical sensations, and respond to these signals in order to interrupt the cycle of your episodes. You will learn how your nervous system works and how to down-regulate (relax) your nervous system through grounding, resourcing, breath, and movement practices.
Mind: You Are Not Your Thoughts
Functional neurological symptoms are expressions of your mind. At the level of mind, you may experience racing thoughts, negative beliefs about yourself, repetitive worries, intrusive memories, constant fears about the future. The mind may tell you to avoid certain aspects of your life because of the possibility of having an episode. Within the Foundation of Mind you will discover that you do not always have to believe your thoughts. You will become more aware of how your thoughts affect the way your body reacts and how, in turn, your interpretation of these physical sensations affects the way you feel. By being a “witness” to your internal narrative, your body can relax into the present moment rather than re-living the past or anticipating the future.
Emotions: Finding Freedom
Functional neurological symptoms are expressions of your emotions. At the level of emotion, you may experience helplessness, fear, confusion, hopelessness, isolation, shame, anger, overwhelm, anxiety, or loss of control. These are very common feelings for people who have been diagnosed with epilepsy and/or functional neurological symptoms.
Within the Foundation of Emotion you will discover that these feelings are normal and healthy reactions to a crazy-making and often misunderstood life situation. You will become more aware of the human tendency to struggle against painful emotions and chase pleasant emotions. In learning neither to push away nor hold onto emotions, you build the capacity to experience the full spectrum of feelings and tap into their natural wisdom. This “emotional freedom” allows you to slow down and positively impact the neuropathways of the emotional spiral seen in functional neurological symptoms.
Energy Systems: Exploring Yourself More Deeply
Functional neurological symptoms are an expression of your energy. At the level of your energy, you may experience a change in perception, that “something comes over you,” a weird energy, a gap in time, an indescribable strangeness, disorientation, or some kind of shift in “normal” reality. You have probably felt or experienced that others cannot relate to these experiences. Know that, among individuals with functional neurological symptoms, these are typical experiences. Within the Foundation of Energy Systems you will discover that these experiences are not something to be afraid of. You will be supported through a process of making new meaning and integrating the more subtle or spiritual aspects of your being. The inexplicable and energetic layers of experience become a ground for discovery and growth rather than fear and isolation.
Through our work together, we will support you in improving your quality of life. We’ll help you
- Learn to differentiate between both real and perceived limitations caused by your FND.
- Improve unwanted emotional aspects of your diagnosis, including shame, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and/or anger.
- Recognize precursors to your main FND symptoms and transform (not avoid) your relationship with them.
- Gain a deeper understanding of how nervous system activation builds increasingly: including anxiety, depression, symptoms of PTSD and FND.
- Learn how to regulate the nervous system’s under or over-activation.
- Increase mindfulness and self-awareness in regards to smallest emotional, physiological, and physical changes, leading to your ability to “not go into FND symptoms.”
- Learn how to regulate your breathing (CO2 levels) to increase oxygen levels available to the brain.
- Deepen into mindfulness practices including interactive meditation.
We use a variety of complementary techniques, depending on each patient’s individual needs. Our work together may include psychotherapy, mindfulness training and meditation, stress-reduction techniques, professionally guided support groups, biofeedback, neurofeedback, and the UNYTE-ILS program.
“There is power inherent in committing yourself to the process of creating health in all levels of your life.” Christiane Northrup, M.D.
How does Somatic (body-based) Psychotherapy help?
The ways that functional neurological symptoms impact your life can be greatly helped by Body-based Psychotherapy Sessions. Dr. Moenter treats functional symptoms from a polyvagal based perspective, functional symptoms are expressions of a hyper,-hypoactivated nervous system. By working with those states of nervous system dysregulation directly, Dr. Moenter treats clients with functional neurological symptoms. The focus of the sessions is not on achieving “control over” the symptoms but on changing underlying psycho-biological mechanism which lead to those functional changes in the brain experienced by clients with FND.
The loss of control over your body and/or mind and the unpredictability of functional neurological symptoms can have a significant emotional impact on your life.
As a person with FND, you are most likely familiar with feelings of helplessness, depression, anxiety, loss of control, overwhelm, shame and guilt. You might feel as if you don’t fit in and have to depend on others for support and daily care. This is a lot to hold for any person, and is especially difficult to deal with when those feelings arise in addition to having FND.
Dr. Moenter, as the lead clinician at the Boulder Center for NeuroHealth, can help.
Over the years, Dr. Moenter has helped many individuals and families to step out of the secrecy, shame, and fear often experienced as a result of their own or a family member’s FND.
In her work with individuals, couples, and families, Dr. Moenter supports and challenges each person in a life-affirming, person-centered, joyful, and mindful way. She will help you explore and transform the challenges many individuals diagnosed with FND know quite intimately.
The main focus at the Boulder Center for NeuroHealth is to help you master the skill of nervous system regulation. Through relational mindfulness you will learn how to self-regulate your emotions, thoughts, and physical experiences.
Through your work together, Dr. Moenter will help you:
- Learn how to use mindfulness and self-awareness to create a more contemplative “nervous system-friendly” lifestyle.
- Identify pre-symptom warnings, including subtle changes in your physiology, thought patterns, and feeling state.
- Learn stress management techniques individualized to your lifestyle
- Reduce possible symptoms of PTSD, including hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, feeling detached or dissociated, hypersensitivity, irritability or angry outbursts
- Explore ways to self-regulate states of hyper or hypo activation of the nervous system.
- Identify emotional, behavioral, physiological, and environmental challenges and learn how to be with rather than to avoid.
- Discover a greater quality of life while implementing a healthy lifestyle, including: exercise, nutrition, sleep, mindfulness, connection to nature, gardening, community, animal companions, independence, emotional health, and more.
- Recognize and cope with feelings of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, anger, shame, avoidance behavior, isolation and loneliness, and suicidal thoughts.
Healing happens on many levels: emotionally, spiritually, and physically. When you develop an understanding of the interconnectedness of your symptoms with other aspects of your life; both in your past and present, you enable true healing to begin.
Let’s explore and understand those influences and de-link them, so you can experience greater emotional freedom, joy, and confidence. Referencing Ron Kurtz, we believe that “the impulse to heal is real and powerful and lies within the you…We are not the healers. We are the context in which healing is inspired.”