Modalities/Treatments Glossary

The following Glossary explains many types of  holistic treatments. Many, but not all, of these modalities are currently offered by Healing Arts Center practitioners.

Acupuncture, one of the main forms of therapy in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), originated over five thousand years ago. Acupuncture restores health by removing energy imbalances and blockages in the body. Practitioners of TCM believe that there is a vital force or energy called qi (pronounced “chee”) that flows through the body, and between the skin surface and the internal organs, along channels or pathways called meridians. There are over a thousand acupoints within the meridian system that can be stimulated to enhance the flow of qi. Qi regulates the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical harmony of the body. When special needles are inserted into these acupoints (just under the skin), they help correct and rebalance the flow of energy and consequently relieve pain and/or restore health. Chinese herbal formulas, dietary changes or exercises are often prescribed to help support the acupuncture treatments.

Acupressure is an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body’s life force (sometimes known as qi or chi) to aid healing. Acupuncture and acupressure use the same points, but acupuncture employs needles, while acupressure uses the gentle, but firm pressure of hands (and even feet). Shiatsu is a well-known Japanese version of acupressure. (Also see Jin Shin Do Acupressure)

Aromatherapy is the herbal medicine practice of using the pure concentrated essential oil extracts of plants to promote health and relieve symptoms of illness. While very effective for a wide range of physical concerns, aromatherapy also has profound mental/emotional effects. The application of an essential oil formula may be as an inhalant or as an ointment or oil to apply to the skin.

Breathing Therapy: Breathing techniques are taught to help facilitate self-care and healing. Good breathing techniques can be consciously acquired. Many therapeutic benefits can be facilitated by deep breathing exercises. Breathing exercises help to regulate and harmonize various functions in the body, mind, and chi (qi or life-force). They can be used to help with relaxation techniques and pain- and stress-reduction exercises, and for specific conditions such as asthma, anxiety, depression, childbirth, etc.  Breathing exercises can be found in yoga and during re-birthing modalities.

Chinese Herbal Medicine: the use of medicinal herbs or combination of herbs (also known as Chinese patent medicines) for the treatment of symptoms and conditions, and to help bring the body back into balance and/or well-being. Many of the patent medicines have been used for hundreds of years. These are combinations of herbs that have been found to influence the body back into balance. The basic approach towards making a formula is different from western herbalism. The combination of herbs chosen will not only treat the symptom, but will also address other parts of the body which may be affected by the underlying condition. Herbal Medicine is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Counseling: Counseling is a professional relationship in which a counselor works with an individual, couple, family, or group. It is  “… a relatively short-term, interpersonal, theory-based process of helping persons who are basically psychologically healthy resolve developmental and situational problems. Counseling activities are guided by ethical and legal standards and go through distinct stages from initiation to termination . Personal, social, vocational, and educational matters are all areas of concern; and the profession encompasses a number of subspecialties.” –Samuel T. Gladding, Counseling: A Comprehensive Profession

Hot Stone Massage uses smooth, warmed basalt stones on the body to add the comforting benefit of heat and gentle weight to facilitate relaxation.The stones usually are laid on areas of the body while the practitioner uses both stones and the hands to apply massaging strokes to other areas. Popularized in spas over a decade ago, it is a treatment that brings a bit of the earth into the massage room.

Hypnotherapy helps with emotional, mental and physical problems. Through imagery guided by a therapist’s words, an individual is assisted to enter a hypnotic or relaxed state. The therapist helps the patient work through issues while the patient is in this state of relaxation.

Intuitive Reading: Readings can vary widely, but most often have in common the offering of life guidance or counsel by way of reading one’s energy intuitively. Some readings function by some form of divination such as tarot cards. Others are offered by way of a “medium” who is able to communicate with one’s spiritual guides or beings.

Jin Shin Do Acupressure combines gentle, yet deep, finger pressure on acu-points with simple body focusing techniques to release physical and emotional tension. Jin Shin Do promotes a pleasurable, trancelike state during which the recipient can get in touch with the body and access feelings or emotions related to the physical condition. This body/mind approach, performed on the fully-clothed client, is a synthesis of a traditional Japanese acupressure technique, classic Chinese acupuncture theory, Taoist yogic philosophy and breathing methods, and Reichian segmental theory. The client lies on her back on a massage table while the practitioner holds “local points” in tension areas together with related “distal points,” which help the armored places to release more easily and deeply. Jin Shin Do acupressure is effective in helping relieve tension and fatigue, stress-related headaches and gastrointestinal problems, back and shoulder pain, eye strain, menstrual and menopausal imbalances, sinus pain, and allergies. Over a period of 10 or more sessions, armoring is progressively released in the head, neck, shoulders, chest, diaphragm, abdomen, pelvis, and legs.

Jin Shin Jyutsu: This modality is a Japanese form of acupressure. It involves a light pressure placed between 2 points until there is a release of restriction. This modality/therapy helps to bring the body’s energies back into balance. This will help promote a state of health and well-being. Jin Shin Jyutsu employs twenty-six “safety energy locks” along energy pathways that feed life into our bodies. When one or more of the paths becomes blocked, the resulting stagnation can disrupt the local area and eventually disharmonize the complete path of energy flow. Holding these energy locks in combination can bring balance to mind, body, and spirit.

Massage: Massage involves pressure, applied usually with the practitioner’s hands (sometimes forearms or elbows, or with the help of a mechanical device) to the surface and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and a sense of well-being. Massage may also involve the application of heat or cold, and mobilization of the joints as in range of motion exercises. Clients are usually treated on a massage table, occasionally on a specially designed massage chair, or on a mat on the floor, as for Thai Massage. Some methods call for the client to remain in comfortable clothing, but most commonly the client undresses in private and is draped with a sheet and/or blanket, and only the portion of the body being treated is uncovered while being massaged. A few methods are Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Prenatal massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage, Aromassage, Lymphatic Drainage, etc.

Polarity Therapy, the art of stimulating and balancing a person’s flow of life energy, is rooted in Indian Ayurvedic Medicine. It is a holistic bodywork treatment often practiced on its own or along with massage, but in its fullest form also involves diet, counseling and exercises.  Central to Polarity Therapy is the concept of a life energy, which is in constant pulsation from positive through neutral to negative poles, creating fields and energetic lines of force. Polarity, like the better-known Reiki and CranioSacral modalities, can be a gentle hands-on treatment with profound results not only on the physical, but emotional levels as well.

Psychotherapy, personal counseling with a psychotherapist, is an intentional interpersonal relationship used by trained psychotherapists to aid a client in problems of living, and to increase the individual’s sense of their own well-being. Psychotherapists employ a range of techniques based on dialogue, communication and behavior change and that are designed to improve the mental health of a client, or to improve marital or family relationships. Psychotherapy may be performed by practitioners with a number of different qualifications, including clinical psychology,  counseling psychology, mental health counseling, clinical or psychiatric social work, marriage and family therapy, and psychiatry.

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by a “laying on of hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. The Japanese word Reiki a composite of two  words –– rei which means  “spirit” and ki which is “life force energy”. So Reiki is actually “spiritually guided life force energy.” It is a system of touching with the hands based on the belief that such touching by an experienced practitioner produces beneficial effects by strengthening and normalizing certain vital energy fields within the body. A Reiki session is most often given with the client lying fully-clothed on a table.

Reflexology: A natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet, hands and ears, and their referral areas which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body. Through application of pressure on these reflexes, the feet being the primary area of application, reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.. The ultimate goal is to help the body’s overall tone and the release of tension.

Shamanic Healing: a shaman is a man or woman who “journeys” in an altered state of consciousness. Shamanism involves a body of energy medicine rooted in various traditions. Shamanic healing is a practice based upon the belief that all healing includes a spiritual dimension. Shamans enter altered states of consciousness to communicate with other realms of reality. The shaman’s journey is to help the patient or community to rediscover their connection to nature and spirit.  The balance the shaman tries to facilitate in an individual involves physical, emotional, mental and spiritual elements.

Sound Therapy/Sound Healing: The use of vibration by way of the voice or other instrument for purposes of healing. With roots in both science and and ancient tradition, sound has been used for thousands of years as a shamanic practice and is now growing as a powerful application of modern medicine. Results have included dramatic healing, the re-attainment of harmony and balance, pain reduction, stress reduction, relaxation, meditation, birthing assistance, increased concentration and medication reduction.

Structural Integration was developed by Dr. Ida Rolf over 50 years ago. It is a therapeutic modality which focuses on releasing restrictions in the fascia of the body, the sheets and sheaths of connective tissue found throughout the body. Deep fascial work finds contracted and tender areas, slowly, persistently and sensitively encouraging their release.  The purpose of Structural Integration is to allow the body to be fluid, light, balanced, free of chronic pain and stiffness, and at ease with itself in the gravitational field. In essence, the technique assists recovery of the graceful and unrestricted movement we enjoyed in youth. Research has demonstrated that Structural Integration (aka Rolfing) can:
• reduce chronic pain and stress;
• enhance neurological functioning;
• allow the body to conserve energy;
• significantly reduce excess curvature in the spine; and
• create more economical and refined patterns of movement.

Therapeutic Touch is a holistic evidence-based therapy that incorporates the intentional and compassionate use of universal energy to promote balance and well-being. It is a synthesis of ancient healing practices, similar to, but different from laying on of hands. During the process, the practitioner uses his or her hands to assess and balance the energy flow of the client, which allows or facilitates the client’s healing process.

Trager Approach: a type of hands-on bodywork in which the therapist moves the client gently and rhythmically, with no undue force. The approach uses light, gentle, non-intrusive movements to facilitate the release of deep-seated physical and mental patterns. The individual experiences the possibility of being able to move freely and effortlessly. The practitioner works in a relaxed, meditative state of consciousness. This state allows the practitioner to connect with the patient in an unforced way. Mentastics, a system of dance-like movements,may also be taught to the client to help them to maintain and enhance the sense of lightness, freedom, and flexibility basic to the Trager Approach.

Lomi Lomi Massage:  a unique healing massage derived from the master healers of Hawaii, it uses gentle and rhythmically flowing strokes.

Soft Tissue Release (STR) is a dynamic, highly effective technique that has an immediate and powerful effect on muscle tissue. It is a combination of movement and manipulation that is extremely versatile. The essence of this approach is a method of applying pressure to a muscle at the same time the muscle is being stretched. STR has a proven track record in correcting the soft tissue and neuromuscular factors that cause:
o Back pain, including sciatica
o Whiplash
o Sports injuries, including hamstring, quad, knee, shin, heel and groin injuries
o Carpal tunnel syndrome
o Tendinitis
o Tennis elbow
o Rotator cuff and other shoulder injuries
o Computer-related strain