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The Intensive Programme: View from the table

Meet Natasha Calia, a participant in the June IP. As a therapist and CST student, she  discovered on CST1 that the work touched her deeply, and so decided to jump into 5 days of it with both feet! She spoke to us about her experience.

What drew you to want to work in such an intensive way like this?

A lot of research has been done into acupuncture carried out in multibed clinics. Studies show that the combined energy of many people having treatment at the same time is greater than it would be to simply have a treatment by yourself. I certainly experienced this in the Upledger Intensive Programme. There was a group of five clients and 15 therapists, working intensively over the five days.

There was a lot of support and expertise in the room. I felt very safe and could work through whatever was arising and didn’t need to hold back. This felt like a very different dynamic to when you go and have a treatment in a clinic. When I’ve had CST treatments before in clinics I would repress sounds or things coming up because I wouldn’t want to disturb anyone. The group collective of the Intensive Programme is significant. At times, the somatical and emotional relief was like a wave travelling around the room. It made me feel able to express rather than repress whatever needed to come out.

What can you share with us about your experience of the programme?

The IP works on many different levels. At the beginning, I was reacting very strongly and physically to the treatment. I was unable to lie still. My nervous system was hyper-vigilant and very reactive, I was all over the couch, sometimes lying down, sometimes sitting up. Having multiple therapists enabled the treatment to continue rather than having to stop, allowing the process to go where it needed to.

Undergoing treatment over several days, rather than the standard 90 minutes, also makes a big difference as it gives you the time and space to go deeply into the process. The structure of the programme was that we received treatment in the morning and afternoon. We began each day with a sharing circle, which was important as it enabled my conscious mind to drop in and process what had arisen the previous day. It also allowed me to arrive fully into my body for the day ahead. My experience has been that it hasn’t always felt very safe for me to be fully present in my body due to the level of trauma I’ve experienced. I’ve always had a sense of disconnect, so dropping in, arriving and sharing provided a safe container for me.

What were you hoping to achieve?

My key intentions were to release repressed trauma and to help my subconscious mind to stop attracting trauma and the emotions associated with it, which included repressed anger. I experienced a lot of spontaneous fascial unwinding, a lot of movement, physical release in my body, a lot of tears and talking to parts of myself that hadn’t been heard before.

What difference has the programme made to you?

I’ve had a lot of structural changes in my body. The first thing that wowed me was the way my gait changed by day three. For most of my life, the right side of my body has turned in on itself. By going back through the timeline of my life, I revisited the trauma that caused this and was able to witness it, feel it and then release it. When I got off the couch that day, my feet felt completely different. There was no more guarding or armouring. I’ve had to go out and buy a whole new sets of footwear because that pattern of pronating in on that side and wearing my shoes down has gone. I can no longer walk in the way I did before. It has been a marked physical difference.

Another huge difference is that I no longer get excruciating stress-related migraines. I was getting these weekly, or fortnightly at best, whenever I had some downtime. I had been in survival mode for around 18 months and whenever I tried to relax I would get an excruciating migraine, with visual disturbances and nausea. I just wanted to curl up. But since the intensive five months ago, I’ve not had a single one.

Have the changes been sustained?

Since doing the programme, I have had a lot of insights into myself and the changes are continuing. I was a nurse and have spent my working life looking after other people but not myself. I now realise I have to look after myself, first and foremost. I have created better boundaries for myself and have begun to nurture myself and listen to what my body is communicating rather than trying to override it all the time.

I have made big changes to the way I structure my work. Now I ensure that I have proper breaks and don’t put the needs of others before my own. I don’t get up too early for work (previously I was getting up at 4am sometimes), I allow my body to rest and listen when it is tired or needs to eat.

The changes are still unfolding, which is really fascinating. I’m noticing improvements on a daily basis, even four and a half months later.

The Upledger intensive has really been a life-changer for me. It can seem almost miraculous when you experience something that is so different like this, but actually it feels very integrated, very real and very soft. I am learning to see trauma before I attract it, which is a huge change. I find that I am continuing to de-layer stuff that no longer serves me.