*Please note- this blog post was written during my time at Brain Fit Academy Inc. I have since continued this amazing work under my own company- Brain FUNdamentals LLC. I hope you enjoy!
I climbed into the back seat of his mother’s car the best I could. He had just arrived home from school and it was time for our session, but this nine year old boy was in complete “freeze” mode and wouldn’t come out of the car.
I climbed in and just started “working” on him. I didn’t say a word because he was so stuck in the freeze response, in the lower part of the brain that we call the “baby brain”, that words wouldn’t have done any good. He wouldn’t have been able to access them- his brain was in the “freeze” of the Fight/Flight/Freeze response and was reacting to the “threat” by making his body (literally) freeze in the seat of the car.
I started by rubbing his ears with a Brain Gym® activity that’s called “Thinking Caps”. Thinking Caps can be very calming for some people and stimulates more than 400 acupuncture points in the ears! Next, I did another activity called “Positive Points”. Positive points can help bring blood flow away from the brain stem (the baby brain) to the thinking part of the brain so that a person can “respond” instead of “react”.
I acted intuitively, and never said a word. I continued those two activities and another one or two. Eventually, and although I don’t know the time frame exactly (but I would say it was probably about 5-10 minutes later) he was ready to come inside and start his session.
When we work with Brain Fit clients, this type of thing can happen. You see- it’s the body’s way of showing us exactly where they are in development. This boy was in freeze mode. He needed me to “meet him where he was”. Which, in this case was literally inside his mother’s car.
Sometimes, meeting a client “where they are” means that they come to the session and immediately drop to the floor. And where do I go? To the floor. They are showing me what they need, and I respond by meeting them there.
Or- maybe the client hides under blankets, or in a corner. I meet them where they are and join them if they let me (which, by the way is most times-especially once I have built a relationship with them during our sessions).
If you read my post The Body Knows- it Just Might Need a Reminder, then you’ll understand that I already recognize that a person’s body knows what it needs. This is no different. It’s about looking for the subtle clues that are telling me what their body needs. Not only for that day or that week, but in that very minute. And if the child is in Fight/Flight/Freeze mode, I can tell you this- I know I won’t get very far by talking.
And, if that means that we spend the first 10 or 15 minutes on the floor (or in a car, or under a blanket) with me just doing passive movements to the child, then that’s what I do. It doesn’t matter what plan I have, or what is “number one” on the schedule for the session. I meet them where they are in order to get them to a place where we can move on. And if that 10 or 15 minutes turns into half the session? Then so be it. And if I need to, I explain to the parent why that needed to happen and I continue on.
I will tell you though- that at least with my experience so far- it doesn’t usually take more than that short amount of time to “move” the client into a better space where they can continue on with the rest of the session. I meet them where they need me to, and then we can move on.
We meet the client where they are because in order to move forward, you have to start where you left off. In order to integrate the primitive reflexes- be it Fear Paralysis or MORO, or STNR or any of the others- you have to start where it left off.