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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you heal me?
    No – you must heal yourself. Integration therapy does not cure symptoms, directly. Instead, the practice invites your nervous system to perform descending modulation to resolve tension within your body (see Benefits of Bodywork). There is one thing your body does better than anything else: Healing. However, there’s one vital caveat: Healing can only happen within a human body when it has the appropriate resources to do so. At Upper Valley Integration Therapy, we do our best to provide you with the appropriate resources to heal (and grow) within sessions and, more importantly, within your daily life.
  • Do you diagnose symptoms?
    As an integration therapist, my professional responsibility is not to diagnose my clients. Instead, it is my obligation to help you develop a better relationship with your body – to show you how to safely learn from your body and to understand of how specific symptoms fit into the greater whole that is you. Additionally, in the event that I believe there are symptoms, signs, and risk factors of underlying pathology that are beyond my scope of practice, I will refer you to a relevant medical professional to receive an appropriate medical evaluation.
  • Does the practice create permanent change?
    Yes and no. Integration therapy reveals the changing nature of your being, which allows you to see the changing nature of everything. Nothing is permanent. In fact, change is the only constant in the universe, and you too are always changing – in every moment, with every breath. Here are two terms in regard to human change for your consideration: Bioplasticity and Neuroplasticity. Bioplasticity is a term that applies to your biological being. It represents the impermanence of living creatures; and thus, how the human body is a fluid, dynamic structure of systems, with an inherent disposition toward self-ordering. Neuroplasticity is a more specific term that applies to your neurobiological being. It represents the ability of the nervous system to form and reorganize synaptic connections in response to experience. At Upper Valley Integration Therapy, we give respect to principles of biology and their clinical relevance. Because your nervous system is the only system we can influence directly, for better or worse, we respect the awesome power of your mind within our sessions, and the general rule of thumb “where your mind goes, your body will follow.” Overall, the practice invites you to embrace change and impermanence, internally and externally, and to direct your personal change to unite with your intentions. Summary: Integration is not permanent – it is progressive. When your practice is mindful, you change the body’s course, and unless an accident intervenes, you will continue along your new course toward a new destiny and a greater sense of integrity.
  • Is a session with you expensive?
    Expensive is a relative term, which invites the following questions: What is valuable to you? Is it possible to put a price on your health and well-being? How expensive is it to not have a healthy relationship with your body? – or to not understand how to measure whatever that means? Obviously, these are personal questions. Your answers are unique to you. That said, “If you do not invest in your wellness, you will inevitably invest in your illness.” So, if you’re hesitant about the financial expense of sessions, please consider the fact that I give everybody a free consultation. This allows me to learn about you and you to determine whether my method of bodywork is appropriate for your needs. For more information, visit Policy and Rates.
  • What are your credentials?
    Jackson Penfield-Cyr is licensed bodyworker working in the state of New Hampshire and Vermont. His certifications are as follows: Rolfing® Structural Integration by the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute® (formerly the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration). DermoNeuroModulation by Diane Jacobs, DPT, who coined the term DermoNeuroModulation. Yoga Instruction by The Whole Yogi, a Registered Yoga School co-founded by Julia Romano and Chris Parkison. Autoimmune Protocol Coaching by AIP Certified Coach LLC. Jackson’s practice is also informed significantly by Rolfing® mentorship with Robert Rex, owner of Cognitive Movement Coach (formerly Rolfing Vermont), and his practice of hatha yoga with Ryan Daniel Smith; Annie Carpenter, founder of SmartFLOW Yoga; and Bryan Kest, founder of Power Yoga. Nevertheless, when all is said and certified, the single most important teacher to Jackson is his own body, mind, and self. Jackson lives and breathes integration therapy. A teacher once told him, “Teach what you embody and embody what you teach,” and he’s done this ever since. Jackson has invested thousands of hours and millions of minutes to self-experimentation to better understand how to leverage scientific principles in his practice of mindful embodiment to be the healthiest and happiest human being he can be. For more information about Jackson and his story, please visit the About page.
  • Who benefits from Integration Therapy?
    ​Everybody. This work is appropriate for the newborn baby and the centenarian alike, because it is based on basic principles of neurobiological health and well-being. It is valuable for clients with acute and chronic conditions, trauma survivors, and professional athletes, including mothers and fathers. Please schedule a consultation to learn how the practice can benefit your relationship with your being.
  • How does integration work?
    This is a question of gravity and humanity (i.e. nature and nurture), and requires a knowledge of principles of biology and their clinical relevance. Therefore, the true question is: “How do you work?” Basically, you work because your nervous system (i.e. your mind) works within your body (i.e. your tissues). Here are some basic facts of human biology for you to consider. Your nervous system: Controls and influences 99.9 percent of body functions. (The only reason we don’t say “100 percent” or “all” is because science isn’t based on absolutes.) Consumes 25 percent of your energy (i.e. oxygen and glucose), approximately. Constitutes 2 percent of your body mass, approximately. Fascinating, right? But wait, it gets better! Humans and other mammals evolved the ability to regulate their bodies through social engagement – prominently, social grooming (i.e. touch). Skin neurology is clear evidence of this fact, and research shows a caring touch on the skin has the ability to reduce heartrate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels – all factors related to stress – in both adults and babies. Therefore, principally, through strategic touch (i.e. dermoneuromodulation), we promote neurovascular circulation – the byproduct of stimulation and prerequisite of regeneration – in order to produce whole body, human being integration (i.e. peace of mind, within your brain and your spine). The short answer is: Integration Therapy works because it helps you integrate your nervous system (i.e. you mind). Integrate – to combine (one thing) with another so that they become a whole; bring into balance, optimal coordination, and appropriate participation. Please know there is abundant opportunity to discuss the clinical relevance of principles of biology and neuroscience within a free consultation or within subsequent sessions.
  • Is a session painful?
    No. Ask yourself: “Why would any therapy be painful, if the only way to take care of any living creature on earth is to touch it gently?” Therapeutic touch is administered with the intention to prevent new pain stimulus. There will be times within a session that you will be challenged – physically, mentally, emotionally – by learning how to find your ‘integral edge’. This is your personal place between too much and not enough, where you’re challenging yourself but there’s a sweetness to the challenge, where you learn how to be comfortable with uncomfortable feelings until your discomfort disappears.
  • What is pain?
    Excellent question! Pain is a phenomenon within your nervous system. Neurobiological complexity aside, what’s most important for you to know is you experience pain when your brain concludes that there is more credible evidence of danger related to your body than there is credible evidence of safety. Basically, it’s your brain’s autonomic (i.e. nonconscious) warning signal when it doesn’t feel safe; thus, a request for self-care. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.” What’s also important for you to know is that pain does not equate to tissue damage (note definition above). This is a most welcome biological fact – so hopefully, if you’re in pain, it gives you some peace of mind. At Integrity Yoga, treatment plans involve an education in pain science and nerve mobilization, therapeutically and strategically, to ensure the physiological health of your nervous system and to consider potential contributors to your pain experiences. Remember, the only way to take care of anything, especially yourself, is with a gentle touch.
  • What happens if I begin to feel pain or discomfort?
    Foremost, I will always respect and honor your feelings. It’s my job. If you ever begin to feel any unpleasantness within you, like pain or discomfort, please let me know immediately. We will stop the treatment, let you be with your emotions, and move forward per your judgement. Of course, there will be times when I challenge you to lean into your perceptual boundaries, only because you need to push boundaries in order to know whether or not they’re truly there, which is a decision for you and you alone to make. Overall, the purpose of this work is to teach you how to control of your mind (i.e. nervous system), so I want you to stay in tune with what you’re feeling, so that you can learn to guide your growth and healing.
  • How many sessions will I need?
    This is your own personal choice depending on your intentions and aspirations, which I will always respect. That said, I invite you to consider this question: “How do I learn to achieve proficiency at something?” The answer: Repetition – importantly, high-quality repetition. Through repetition, a skill is practiced and rehearsed over time and gradually becomes easier. Well, guess what? Developing your sense of mindful embodiment is no different. As I like to say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body.” There’s a lot of habituated patterns of conditioning within your nervous system, and reprogramming your body won’t be a walk in the park (especially if you’re having trouble walking in the first place). But if you’re motivated to change your relationship with your body, to ask tough questions of me and yourself, and you’re willing to put in the work in sessions and outside of sessions, I’ll be here for you, no matter how many sessions you feel you need.
  • Why don’t you practice Rolfing® Structural Integration?
    Yes, I’m a Certified Rolfer®, and no, I don’t practice Rolfing® Structural Integration for several reasons. Primarily, I do not prescribe to the biologically implausible explanatory model of this method of bodywork, which is principally, the belief that a practitioner can influence fascia via manual therapy. Secondly, I have an aversion to cults of personality and dogma, both of which pervade the community of Rolfing® Structural Integration, unfortunately. Thirdly, I don’t like the word “Rolfing”. To me, it sounds unappealing. Fourthly, the term ‘structural integration’ is a term coined by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, who studied the yogic tradition prior to developing, marketing, and branding Rolfing® Structural Integration. The principles of Dr. Rolf’s brand of manual therapy appropriate directly from yogic principles without attribution to the tradition. The now various forms of ‘structural integration’ do not acknowledge the appropriation either. Finally, for me, bodywork is the practice of Yoga. Historically, it’s the original name given by humanity. (Yoga means “Union” – that’s all.) Honestly, you may call it whatever you like.
  • What is fascia?
    Fascia is connective tissue (primarily collagen) beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs, and it typically classified in layers. The embryological origin of fascia is the mesoderm, a germ layer that arises during gastrulation. The mesoderm is present between the ectoderm, which becomes skin and central nervous system cells, and the endoderm, which produces the gut and the lungs. This is important because mesodermal derivatives consist of non-excitable cells. Excitable cells refer to cells that do not generate action potentials (i.e. the change in electrical potential associated with the passage of an impulse along the cell membrane). With the exception of neurons, muscle cells, and some endocrine cells, all cells in the body are non-excitable – that includes, you guessed it, fascia. Yes, almost all living cells and tissues exert and experience physical forces that influence biological function, but that doesn’t mean all living cells are clinically relevant in the context of therapeutic bodywork. In fact, nothing in the body is more excitable than a neuron. Each neuron fires (on average) about 200 times per second and connects to about 1,000 other neurons. While fascia evolved to provide structure to a body, neurons evolved to predict, respond, and adapt rapidly to changes in their environment to ensure the survival of that body. Therefore, neurons (not fascia) is the best biological target for any intervention in any therapy.
  • What’s the difference between Rolfing® and Yoga Sparśa®?
    Yoga Sparśa® Integration Therapy is distinct from other methods of structural Integration due to its incorporation of neurobiology research and the tradition of Yoga. As a bodywork therapy, Yoga Sparśa® Integration Therapy may be considered a method of structural integration; however, it draws specifically from the clinical relevant principles of neurophysiology that inform the DermoNeuroModulation. This term was coined by Diane Jacobs, DPT, as a result of his desire for a straightforward term that accounts for what’s actually happening during any contact-based therapeutic intervention. While other methods of structural integration choose to preserve and perpetuate outdated explanatory models of manual therapy (i.e. fascial distortion), Yoga Sparśa® Integration Therapy is informed by academic and clinical research in the fields of neuroscience, particularly neurodynamics and pain physiology, which offer a healthier scientific basis for its practice as a bodywork therapy.
  • What’s the difference between Integration Therapy and Massage Therapy?
    These two practices of bodywork therapy are distinct, and complimentary. The primary differences reside in the approach and the administration of therapeutic interventions. Massage Therapy is a technique-based practice, mostly targeting tissues, in which the therapist works with the client to elicit a state of relaxation, applying various skin contact techniques from various traditions, often resulting in short-term decreases of tension within a body. Generally, it is a relaxation experience. Integration Therapy is a neurobiology-based practice, targeting nerves, in which the therapist works with the client to integrate their nervous system, communicating and contacting the client based on principles of neurobiology, often resulting in the elimination of tension within a body. Specifically, it is a sensorimotor rehabilitation experience. Notably, these are generalizations I’m making about massage therapy based on common practice and advertising within the profession. Massage therapy has therapeutic value for many people; however, it is often not ideal for self-motivated people searching for a means of sensory rehabilitation or for learning scientific principles of posture, pain, and performance.
  • What’s the difference between Integration Therapy and Physical Therapy?
    These two practices are distinct and complimentary. The primary difference is in professional licensure and state regulations, and the secondary difference is in the approach and the administration of therapeutic interventions. The most significant clinical difference is perhaps that physical therapists can ‘diagnose’ their patients, while I cannot. Diagnosis is often challenging, because many signs and symptoms are nonspecific, and should be done by a qualified medical professional. That said, I refer to myself as a survivor of physical therapist diagnoses, because I’ve found, personally and professionally, it’s not uncommon for ‘musculoskeletal’ diagnoses to be speculative, inaccurate and highly nocebic (i.e. ‘negative’ language that suggests damage or poor prognosis, or non-therapeutic). Another significant clinical difference I’ll mention is the most unfortunate fact that many physical therapists perform and proliferate interventions with pseudoscientific explanations. This includes interventions such as dry needling, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, deep tissue mobilization, muscle energy technique, craniosacral therapy, and custom orthotics, to name a few. While these interventions may have therapeutic value for some people, the explanatory models and alleged therapeutic elements (i.e. physiological mechanisms) told to patients are often not biologically plausible. Instead, it appears these interventions rely heavily on contextual effects, such as placebo response and regression to the mean. So, yes, these interventions do help some people; however, I take issue with the fact that they’re administered by so-called ‘experts’ in a manner that misleads people into believing the benefit is derived from some specialized intervention, when in reality it’s the fact their brain has just been given a context to heal itself. Even more unfortunately, the incredible amount of obscure interventions, especially patented techniques, sustain an enormous and spurious continuing education industry, to the detriment of an increasingly confounded general public. At Upper Valley Integration Therapy, we respect basic principles of human anatomy and physiology and, most importantly, we respect you and your ability to understand basic scientific principles that can empower your health and healing and well-being. No special, expensively obtained techniques necessary. We’re here to teach you that, ultimately, you are your own best therapist.
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