What is Neural retraining?
Neural retraining is an interactive three session group training programme that focuses on the science behind how the brain, mind and body interact. It gives you powerful tools to influence your health and wellbeing. Neural retraining is difficult to describe as it is a combination of things which are tailored to suit each individual client requirements. The groups are made of approx. 6 clients with various health conditions. A group dynamic works well as often clients feel isolated on their journey. The group provides support to each other and clients learn from each other as they apply the process and make amazing changes to their health and well-being over the three days.
Using concepts of neuroplasticity, neuro-linguistic programming, life coaching and core principles of physiology (endocrine systems and neurotransmitters). It helps you change the way your nervous system works, switching on pathways which promote health and switching off ones that aren’t so useful for you.
How does it work?
Neural retraining applies the sound scientific principles and teaches you how to influence very important processes in your body.
Refers to the brain’s ability to change – to adapt and modify through activity or experience, which also includes mental activity and thoughts. Through repetition, the brain lays down neural connections becoming more efficient. Eventually whatever is repeated becomes so efficient that it will run unconsciously without our awareness. The great news is that the brain always retains the capacity to change. If you are stuck there are always options.
The implications that the brain changes are clear when you think that the brain interacts with every cell and process in the human body. Neuroplasticity opens up new treatment options. This new understanding is a game changer for many chronic illnesses and highlights the importance of a retraining approach to well-being.
With repetition, the brain rewires for efficiency and automation. We become better and faster, however, repetition can also create a rigid state. We can become stuck, stuck in our thinking, our behaviours and we now know we can become stuck in our physiological responses and functioning.
The Sympathetic response
The sympathetic nervous system or the 'flight or fight' response (Selye, 1936, Parker, 2012) – it is our body’s natural reaction to any threat and provides amazing bursts of strength and speed, changing our body’s hormones and fuel usage and so on – is ideal if escaping a tiger and for very short periods of time. Unfortunately, the threats we find ourselves in today tend to last for longer periods of time. Illness, chronic infections, relationships, work, exams, mortgages can keep on triggering this response. Research shows that long-term activation of these changes as a result of the 'fight or flight' response is detrimental to our health, creating havoc with our sleep, healing and immune system, digestion, clear thinking and general mood – this is called Allostatic Load and has been shown to be linked to chronic illness, including heart disease, abdominal obesity, hypertension, diabetes, (Mattei, Demissie, Falcon, Ordovas & Tucker, 2010) migraines and pain (Borsook D, Maleki N, Becerra L & McEwen B, 2012) asthma (Bahreinian S et al. 2013) and CFS (Maloney EM, Boneva R, Nater UM & Reeves WC, 2009).
Reducing allostatic load is considered vital for improving chronic health conditions (Logan & Barksdale, 2008), neural retraining does this by teaching you how to spot when the sympathetic response is happening and teaches you how you can calm the response down, allowing the body to re-balance itself.
The interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems.
An understanding of the interplay between these things can highlight how people can become stuck in their health and lives.
Over the three sessions clients are taught skills that must be put into practice. It is this commitment to on-going work that is essential in the retraining aspect of the neural retraining programme. The techniques can be used in many ways, to calm your nervous system down, to increase energy, to increase confidence and motivation. I teach the clients diaphragmatic breathing techniques to put into practice when needed and also address supressed emotions if needed which can manifest as physical symptoms in some cases. I adjust the training accordingly depending on what has been happening for each individual client
Mind or body (the missing link)
In the past, we have tended to see conditions as either physical or psychological. There is either something ‘broken’ or it’s ‘in your head’.
We now know that this way of seeing things is biologically inaccurate and has limited treatment options for many conditions.
Through a continual stream of research, we now appreciate the role that the brain plays in many aspects of physical health.