Changing Negative Cycles: A Success Story

Joe Lee Griffin

"Why is Trager® so effective at encouraging self-care?"

"To do what you want to do, your functional mind needs feedback, sensory signals from your body. Trager helps you recall what a good relationship to your body feels like."


· A basic Trager question: How do we avoid reflex resistance?

· Answer: We lighten instead of fight'n!

Changing negative cycles - ease and lightness to avoid reflex resistance.

After several hours of surgery on a shattered elbow, some recovery time, and some physical therapy, a woman of 63 came for a session. Her physical therapist, on orders, had caused pain by pushing for a certain angle of the joint. This added to a pain-fear-tension cycle that dominated her life. When she came, she limped because her elbow hurt.

Because of this history, I didn't touch her for the first half hour. First I had her support her arm on balloons at a table and gently bounce the arm and dance with it herself. Then she held rolled, taped newspaper sections as symbolic weights and, with small balloons under each arm, let each side take turns feeling heavy and sinking. She felt elasticity in the repaired elbow for the first time and said a five pound weight she got from her therapist hurt so much she never felt the elbow stretch.

Later in this first session she accepted gentle hands-on movement, carefully kept within her small window of comfort. We did not go to the table.

Before ending, I brought out a cane, intending to show her a passive elongation. She enthused, "I did a cane dance in college!," took the cane, and showed me, actively using both arms and her whole body. She ended by using the problem arm to spin the cane.

In later sessions, we went more directly, on the table, to helping her functional mind relearn the feeling of comfort and easy movement.

Her physical therapist noticed her change in attitude, asked to observe a session, and consulted with me on how to avoid reflex resistance. According to the client, the therapist not only made basic changes in approach, but also shared with others in her physical therapy office about avoiding resistance.

To be obvious, this "almost nothing" session was particularly effective because I gave her room to release fears. What we did seemed like play, because we caused no pain, and because she enjoyed herself. No reflex resistance. My client went back to a time, more than forty years before, when she had a good relationship to her moving body.


This article first appeared in The International Trager® Newsletter.

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