How to let your body do the talking: Adventures in Etiotherapy

As published in Vancity buzz on April 16th, 2015.

Whether you’ve been to a therapist or not, you probably have a picture of what therapy looks like. Chances are, this mental picture involves you sitting in a comfortable chair or reclining on a couch while the therapist asks you probing questions to crack you open.

For many people, the thought of having to sit through hours of talking therapy would be on par with getting a root canal.

Did you know that there was a type of therapy, practiced here in Vancouver, that allows your body to do most of the talking? All you have to do is lay there and think.

What is Etiotherapy?

Until I met Colette Yeomans from Clarité Wellness for coffee last month, I had no idea what Etiotherapy was. After she explained it to me, I was so curious that I begged her to do a session with me the following week.

Etiotherapist practitioners take reading from the Vasular Autonomic Signals, a Coherence filter and Auriculaotherapy ear points. In layman’s terms: she takes your pulse, uses light filters and gets readings from specific points on your ears. These readings are then used to decode what the patient is dealing with, using combination of physics and physiology. The practice of etiotherapy is based on research from Western physicians and mathematicians who also wanted to incorporate some of the ideas from Chinese medicine.

According to Colette, “Etiotherapy works at the intersection of your physical and emotional states.”

What happens during a session?

I had NO idea what to expect when I walked into Colette’s white-washed Granville Island studio. Fortunately, she quickly explained what was going to happen during our session.

She instructed me to lay down on what looked like a massage table, and made sure I was comfortable before she dimmed the lights. She indicated that she would be taking my pulse from my wrist during the entire session. She was also going to use little light filters to take energy readings during our session. These readings were going to be interpreted through various mathematical or algorithmic charts.

It took a few minutes for her to get the first reading. Apparently I was “in my head” too much and had to wiggle my toes several times to bring myself back into my whole body.

The first reading she took was something about a major illness or general anesthetic when I was five or six years old. She asked me if that resonated with me. I thought about it for a bit and then realized my first surgery was when I was around six years old. Back then they didn’t allow parents into the operating room and it was quite traumatic to be alone; this event had a profound impact on me.

You can choose to talk during a session, but many of her patients prefer to just feel the response to the readings and notice what it brings up. The goal is to let your body and your mind process the things from the past that you have unconsciously held onto. Colette’s gentle and empathetic demeanor made it easy to relax during our session.

She took several other readings, one of which included something about the energy in my left hip. Apparently, the left hip is usually associated with judgement of self and strong self-reliance. Yes and yes. Colette had no idea that the previous week I had an incidental finding of early arthritis in my left hip, due to an x-ray taken to diagnose another medical problem.

Does it actually work?

My session with Colette was extremely powerful.

After logging in years’ worth of talking therapy, there were a few readings that really helped me to process events from my past. The session forced me to connect more with my feelings and my body, instead of staying inside my head. Not surprisingly, several of Colette’s clients are people who talk for a living, including psychologists and clinical counsellors.

The most powerful part of our session was when Colette asked at the end of our session if I was having trouble accepting or processing anything. The last reading she had taken didn’t resonate with me—it was unclear what it was referring to. She took another reading and was able to give me enough insight for a significant ah-ha moment that brought closure to a stressful situation that had occurred recently.

Is Etiotherapy for you?

You need to be somewhat comfortable with the idea of energy readings to truly embrace this modality of therapy. If you have never experimented with any alternative healing practices, Etiotherapy may be a huge leap for you. However, the idea of being able to heal and process past events without talking through it would be appealing to those who feel talking therapy isn’t a fit for them.

Colette also works a lot with those who are struggling with anxiety and/or depressions, as well as those who have chronic pain. Many people struggling with anxiety or depression who got frustrated looking for a therapist that they felt they could trust and relate to. Due to the fact that Etiotherapy does not require significant rapport between practitioner and patient, this would be a good option to try for those who are concerned about finding a good personality fit.

If you want to learn more about etiotherapy and Colette’s Clarité Granville Island studio, visit her website at claritewellness.com.