Mind/Body Integration Model

The Mind / Body Integration is a comprehensive treatment approach that will afford you optimal reduction in mental, emotional and physical symptoms and conditions. The "Treatmtent" section identifies and defines a selection of treatments that I provide to optimize achieving your mental, emotional and physical wellness goals. The integrity of the mind / body connection becomes compromised when mental, emotional, and physical components of a person is under duress in response to stress. If symptoms are not attended to, they can result in chronic mental, medical and physical conditions. 

When you have good emotional health, you’re aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You can manage stress and problems that are a normal part of life. You experience life events as challenges rather than problems. You don’t become overly anxious or worried by anticipating potential negative outcomes: the stress of “what if?” You experience inner security that affords you to be confident in your competence to remain calm and to manage life events. You accept yourself for who you are.

However, many events that happen in a person’s life can disrupt physical and emotional health with the consequence of sadness, depression and/ or anxiety i.e. “fight, flight or freeze response.” Stress can be experienced regardless of whether the life event is perceived as positive or negative. A few examples of typical negative stressors are: becoming unemployed, the death of a loved one, an illness or injury, a divorce, financial issues.

A few examples of typical positive events that cause or exaggerate the stress response are: a job promotion, the birth of a baby, looking for and purchasing a home.

The below provides a more detailed explanation of the psycho- neuroendocrine and physiologic mechanism associated with the mind/body stress response.

The Stress Response:

Stress occurs to an alarm that activates the release of stress hormones, oxygen and glucose. This activates the "fight – flight- freeze" response.

The stress hormone response: When the brain perceives stress, the hypothalamus corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) (1), which triggers the release of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) (2) from the pituitary gland. ACTH (2) travels through the bloodstream and (along with signals from the brain sent through the nervous system) stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol and epinephrine into the bloodstream (3). Cortisol and epinephrine (3) help provide energy, oxy-gen, and stimulation to the heart, the brain, and other muscles and organs (4) to support the body's response to stress.

When the stress response is activated, a structure of the brain: the hypothalamus sends a hormone, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) that causes a volley of neurophysiological events to respond and to manage the stressor(s).

Symptoms of Stress can Manifest in several manners:

  • Physical Symptoms: Although seemingly independent, these symptoms are more likely to coexist or be the byproduct of psychological conflicts. In addition, many physical conditions are worsened by stress (e.g. asthma, psoriasis, migraine and other medical conditions).
    • Headache                                                                                          
    • Indigestion
    • Palpitations
    • Difficulty with swallowing
    • Aches and pains
    • Sweating
    • Muscle tension
    • Weight gain or loss
    • Insomnia
  • Psychological Symptoms:
    • anxiety
    • Worry
    • Anger
    • Depression
    • Panic attacks
    • Hopelessness
    • Gloomy thoughts
    • Feeling unable to cope
    • Fearfulness
    • Withdrawal
  • Behavioral Problems:
    • Agitation
    • Forgetfulness
    • Poor concentration
    • Anger
    • Shouting
    • Irritability
    • Violent outbursts
    • Inability to cope
    • Increase substance abuse
    • Eating too much or too little             

Mind / Body Integration Model: Rationale

There are many models available to explain the rationale and that offer various approaches to treat mental, emotional, and physical conditions. Typically, these models have been limited to either treating  the mind or the body.  The mind/body model integrates each of the models to provide a comprehensive treatment approach. It looks at the whole person by recognizing that the mind and body are inextricably woven together.  Another way of conceptualizing the mind/body connection is to recognize that the mind resides in the body as well as in the brain. So, when we feel happy, sad, angry, or fearful, there are clear changes taking place in the brain that effect our physical and mental well-being. This further translates into the mind/body connection being defined as the psychosomatic communication network. Simply put, psychosomatic is synonymous with mind and body.

An example that illustrates the mind/body connection is: that suppression of grief, and suppression of anger increases the risk of breast cancer in women. Numerous programs that have been established for women to express their grief and anger report that the women live, on the average, two times longer than those not afforded the opportunity to express their thoughts and emotions.

When the stress response is chronically triggered, such as during childhood maltreatment and compromised attachment, key biological systems become altered and dysregulated. Research on Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), which focuses on the mind–body connection, have found that people who suffer trauma, of any type, have higher rates of serious illnesses than the general population. The Advere Childhood Experiences (ACE) study reported that adults who experienced trauma and chronic stress at any time that includes disrupted attachment as children,  physical and sexual abuse, parental mental illness, substance abuse, criminal behavior, and dysfunctional families have higher rates of cancer, heart disease, bronchitis, diabetes, stroke, and gastrointestinal disorders, than nontraumatized/stressed adults.

Similar outcomes have been found in other studies: women maltreated as children had a ninefold increase in heart disease; 60 percent of women treated for gastrointestinal illness had an abuse history; significantly higher rates of chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia occurred when there was a history of trauma and PTSD diagnosis.

When the mind and body are in balance there is neither over or under arousal of mental, emotional and physical components. It is typically accepted that many of the mental, emotional and physical symptoms we experience represent a mind/body imbalance that is caused by, or aggravated by "stress". It is not unusual to hear persons speaking of "being stressed, overwhelmed by stress, stressed out, under stress, stress management etc ." Although there are many definitions of stress, the following definition provides an simplified understanding: stress is a condition in which there is excessively high levels of toxic chemicals being released from the brain and the body.  This  maladaptive response results in a range of unpleasant physical, psychological and behavioral problems. 

The longer stress continues, the more serious the effects can become. A person may experience exhaustion, chronic fatigue and be unable to sleep. If these symptoms are left unaddressed they can contribute to a number of physical and psychological conditions. These conditions include heart disease, hypertension, insomnia, muscle pains, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, panic disorder, and other medical conditions. These conditions can coexist with an inability to cope and a state of anxiety or clinical depression.