Have you ever heard of energy medicine?
As a student of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, I often see patients in our school clinic who are seeking relief from pain. This can range from joint pain to musculoskeletal injury, menstrual pain, low back pain and more. I’ve noticed, however, that very often there is a mental-emotional aspect to the pain as well. Many times there is a history of trauma associated with the pain. I wanted to learn more about how to help patients who are struggling with trauma and emotional pain, so I spoke with Lisa Oliva who specializes in trauma work using several types of energy medicine. She completed certificate programs in Polarity Therapy and Craniosacral Unwinding from the Life Energy Institute in Los Angeles, and is a Board Certified Polarity Therapy Practitioner (BCPP). Below, we chat more about energy medicine, and how she became interested in it.
What is Polarity/Craniosacral Therapy?
Polarity Therapy and Craniosacral Therapy are two different forms of energy medicine. They are considered biofield therapies, which use the human energy system as the focus, and instrument, of therapy.
Unlike traditional talk therapy which is often focused on self-analysis and behavioral strategies, Polarity/Craniosacral Therapy offers a different approach to healing - one that involves the body and listening to the whole being. It facilitates healing through a combination of deep listening and gentle touch, and holds space for a patient to feel honored and supported in their experience.
What conditions respond particularly well to this approach?
Emotional pain, shock and developmental trauma, eating disorders, addiction, and the pain of being displaced from oneself. Early stage developmental trauma and chronic, physical pain are often the most difficult conditions to treat. But with continued treatment, progress can be made.
What can people expect in a typical session?
I always say the best way to understand this work is to have an experience of it. But I can explain the structure of a typical session. We’ll dialogue for about half an hour so I can better understand where you need support. I listen to your emotional process, and work with any trauma/dysregulation that’s presented. After that, you will move to the treatment table for the remainder of the session. At this point, I ask you to slow down and check in with the sensations in your body to connect more fully with your experience. I set parameters for safety, and ask you to communicate with me if anything doesn't feel okay.
What makes energy medicine different than other types of therapy?
Instead of trying to analyze the problem and figure out a solution, it encourages the mind and body to relax and allow for innate wisdom to come forward. It’s non-pathologizing. Rather than trying to do something to someone it’s the art of dimensionally listening to and being with someone.
How did you get into this practice?
I was introduced to these modalities at a holistic, inpatient treatment program for women with eating disorders in Tucson, Arizona. The weekly, individual Polarity/Craniosacral Therapy sessions I received during my 30 day stay were extremely potent and transformative. After I left the program, I wanted to learn more. I discovered the Life Energy Institute in Los Angeles, and completed their Polarity Therapy and Craniosacral Unwinding certificate programs. I started my private practice in 2017.
What else are you interested in right now?
I have been furthering my education by studying nervous system regulation and trauma repair in Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing professional certification program. Somatic Experiencing® is a body-oriented approach to restoring a fundamental sense of safety (or regulation) in the Autonomic Nervous System. When safety is restored, resiliency to life and its stressors is enhanced.
Thank you so much Lisa! Be sure to check out her website to learn more about Polarity/Craniosacral Therapy and Somatic Experiencing.