Getting the help we need in order to take the next step forward in life is essential to growth and well-being. When we live stuck in any situation, it becomes taxing to the soul and often seeps into other areas. And on top of everything else in life, who needs that?
In your choice of options, I would ask you to consider being prayerful and open to the variety of therapies that could possibly help you take the next step or move along into your next phase. Allow God to open your eyes to whatever may help you even if you would not normally be interested in it. Besides Christian counseling and individual and group therapy and the therapies listed on the Resources page, there are other supplemental options to consider in your healing arsenal. For example, massage therapy, E.M.D.R. therapy and Theophostic prayer may prove to be helpful to you in your growth. I have experience with all three of these and have found them to be very effective.
Several years ago I was relatively wound-up from years of raising four daughters, three of whom were teens at the same time. I needed a way to begin winding back down but wasn’t sure how. Because I had been raised in a medical environment, the LORD had to introduce me to massage and its therapeutic effects. He knew I needed it.
The therapy began in 30 minute sessions and without charge after I discovered a massage school had opened less than a mile from our home. Their services were free to the public to enable the students to complete their required number of hands-on hours for certification.
When I began massage at the school, I would estimate that my bodily tension level averaged on a scale of 1 to 10 around an 8, which is pretty high. I was unaware that it was so high at the time since the level of tension had risen gradually over the years but always seemed relatively normal to me, like the clueless frog in the boiling water. Our tension levels tend to stay high if we encounter regular stress because they acclimate at high levels like our weight set point does, a natural and self-protective measure. But my experience has proven that massage therapy can change set tension levels.
Each time I would get massage, my tension level would drop. The more consistently I got massages, the lower the tension level would go. It would rise again afterwards each time but to a point lower than where I had started. For instance, if I entered the masage at an 8 tension level, I would walk out at a 3 or 2. After I exited, life would hit and my tension level would go back up but only to a 7. Next time I went in at a 7, exited at 2 or 1. Life hit and I returned but only to a 6. And so on. Not to say that you only need six or eight massages to keep you forever at a 2 because it is a process of reconditioning your central nervous system over time. It took time to get it all hyped-up and it takes time and effort to get it to calm down.
Unfortunately, the school eventually moved out-of-state. So I have found another location and schedule one-and-a-half hour deep-tissue massages once a month. After two years of this therapy, I am pleased that my inner tension level has dropped down to a consistent 2 or 3. As a result of massage therapy, my tension level has reacclimated at a lower point, granting me today a much more relaxed physical state which is conducive to health. And when I do encounter stress, my mind and body have a much easier time relaxing back in to the “new normal” lower tension level I have welcomed.
Manipulation of the central nervous system using massage is a process which must be intentionally pursued and done in combination with other therapies, such as meditation, learning the art of maintaining margin and boundaries, and reframing situations in grace, all of which work together in keeping the tension level low. This leveling out of the soul is multi-layered and time-consuming but well worth the benefits. Over time I have been surprised to find that collectively they have calmed and transformed by central nervous system which has endured more than its share of overstimulation. My family has noticed the effects of various therapies on me and are now interested in learning and applying them, too.
Another type of therapy is called E.M.D.R. which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is a very effective and efficient treatment for trauma that could otherwise take years to treat. Through the back-and-forth eye movement (or hand-held vibrating devices), the therapy connects the cognitive left side of the brain with the emotional right side which stores the traumatic memory. I researched this therapy, prayerfully found a therapist in my area and asked her to help me get past an early childhood trauma that I recognized was blocking me in moving forward in my marriage relationship. I was fully confident in the effectiveness of the treatment and open to anything God showed me I needed to address during it.
Before therapy the two sides of my brain in relation to the traumatic event remained separate in spite of the fact that I knew for certain the trauma was in the past and had no relevance to the present. For example, when the left side of my brain acknowledged that the trauma was over and didn’t apply anymore, the emotions stored in the right side of my brain refused to believe continuing to react as if the trauma were an ongoing event. Unfortunately, emotions do not know fantasy from reality or past from present, and respond immediately in the present out of the strongly imprinted trauma memory that they carry regardless of any cognitive reasoning we may offer them. This process is illustrated when you see a scary or suspenseful movie and your pulse and respiration increase along with the plot even though you are fully aware that the movie is fiction.
During the light therapy, I found that the emotional right side of my brain actually connected to, listened to and cooperated with the cognitive left side. The left side accessed the right-side and provided the needed correction so that both sides are now in agreement concerning the trauma. Consequently, my brain feels balanced out and comfortably living in the present. The trauma remains there in my memory but it is much more distant and no longer jumps out without invitation from the past to interject itself in to the present. I would highly recommend this therapy for anyone who struggles with anxiety, unexplained behavior, panic attacks or past trauma of any kind that interferes in life. Also, addictions often masquerade as ineffective band-aids of self-medication to cover up such hidden issues which could be resolved with E.M.D.R. therapy.
The good news is that after the therapy, the wall of trauma that stood as a hidden fortress in my soul had been penetrated or removed and I experienced freedom in my marriage relationship where the wall once stood. I’ve been granted new territory now in this area and am having fun familiarizing myself with it. Here’s to learning new things and moving on to better places.
Another therapy I have used is Transformation prayer. (Transformation prayer is not for immature Christians, those who dabble in the occult or those who are fear-based, more enemy-focused than Christ-focused, live in unbelief or insist on keeping Christ at a distance.) Our God desires in compassion to help us in time of need exposing areas that we cannot see to His holy light so that we can grow in freedom and in intimacy with Him. Transformation prayer provides this illumination through serious Holy Spirit work and delivers serious results because you are going in faith together directly to the Source of Help (Ps. 50:15, Is. 9:6).
Transformation prayer involves two believers gathered in prayer in Christ’s name (Matt. 18:20). Together you ask Christ to protect you, reveal the root of the trauma that is interfering in your life, speak into the situation and initiate healing. Then you wait prayerfully for an answer and together you receptively follow His leading. The process requires patience and can sometimes take multiple sessions depending on your need.
My reason for exploring Transformation prayer was that I had an ongoing problem with a particular person who kept having unexplained negative effects on me. In our prayer, we asked Christ to speak to my situation and reveal to me what He wanted me to see and do about it. We waited quietly around ten minutes then He revealed Himself to me.
A heavy oil began pouring over me in the Spirit and He said, “You are Mine.” The oil covered me dripping down all over my body. Then He brought to my mind this particular person. The person reached out to touch me simulating the impact of all their past and future negative effects on me. I just barely felt the touch through the thick layer of oil and to my surprise the hand quickly slipped off me as the oil provided a thick layer of protection from the impact. This person reached out to touch me over and over but the hand kept slipping off because of the oil. The prayerful experience comforted me and gave me insight in to the dynamics of what was going on.
Ever since then when I do have contact with this person, I am more relaxed and the effects which were once painful are now mostly benign because I see the protective effects of the oil covering at work. Also, I have learned to keep even more distance which has helped. I always remember in the prayer the barrier of unbelief that Christ broke for me and His take-away truth: that I belong to Him in the most profound way and that the oil He has anointed me with is permanent protection as I abide in Him.
Suffice it to say that I knew little to nothing of these interesting therapies before God showed them to me. I am so glad I was open to hear, trust and follow His leading. He calls all of us to be healed and comforted so that we can comfort others and lead them to healing as well (2 Cor. 1:3-4). My experiences with God in finding healing are recorded in my personal journal, My Journey through the Cross, at myjourneythroughthecross.com. The wonderful and transforming work of the Holy Spirit is at work in and through the body of Christ. Thank you, Jesus, for your healing in whatever form it takes.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement),who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.
For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them.
And call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.
And Jesus replied to them, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.
1 John 1:5
And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [ no, not in any way].
I have come as a Light into the world, so that whoever believes in Me [whoever cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] may not continue to live in darkness.