During a long and gruelling process last year, I underwent weekly chiropractic adjustments for my wonky back which had been bothering me for years. According to my dear sweet chiropractor for whom I feel a great amount of gratitude for my new-and-improved health (I didn’t always feel so positive towards this man), the root cause of my pain was a very old injury which he thinks dates back to my childhood. On this point, I have no argument. I remember the whole problem starting in earnest when I was eleven years old. The end result was always the same: my neck actually become stuck in a sideways position and landed me in Emergency countless times because I was literally immobilized by the pain.
The psychological reasons behind this physical manifestation of severe stress stem from ongoing family dysfunction and trauma for many years which I have devoted most of my adult life to figuring out and healing from. At this stage of my healing, it appears that I am working on healing the root cause on a physical level; something more foreign to me than working with my psyche for which I have been better trained.
As I went to my weekly chiropractic appointments and got adjusted, I noticed an incredible thing happening- the pain was no longer localized in one spot in my back, but began to move from one place to another all along my spine, until it moved in a steadily upward direction completely away from my spine, into my shoulders, and then- poof! It completely disappeared!
As this process was occurring, I had many moments of panic and unrest because I didn’t know what was happening in my body or why. When I went in to see my chiropractor each week, I’d tell him what I was experiencing, all the while emotionally freaking out in front of him (poor man), and then he’d soothe me instantly by saying the same thing over and over again: “That’s good news. You’re healing. Your body is just adjusting to the changes. One day, those changes will stick and the pain will be gone.”
I couldn’t help but think how my feeling so scared, vulnerable, and unsure of what was happening in my body was analogous to how clients must often feel once they are fully engaged in the therapy process. As a therapist, I am helping them get to the root of problems they are experiencing in the present which have persisted for a very long time and caused them enormous suffering. When things start to shift emotionally for them, they often freak out because they are experiencing new and different thoughts, feelings, and ways of looking at themselves and their lives.
And even if they are starting to notice a reduction in the problem they came to me in order to rid themselves of, they still don’t like being in the ‘healing zone’ where everything is new, different, and unfamiliar. They often need reminding from me that what they are now experiencing is good news-that they are indeed, healing emotionally. But instead of telling them that their body is adjusting, I tell them that their psyche is adjusting to the psychological changes we have initiated. But just like my chiropractor, I tell them that one day, those changes will stick and the pain will be gone…and this is often a big relief.