click on video to the left
*After several years of being a caregiver to my Mom, the husband of a dear friend suffered a stroke and lives at the Jersey shore. They were alone and both needed help and support. My husband and I tried to be present for them a few days a week. The anxiety grew to a level which went out of control both physically and emotionally. Peggy DeMaio brought me to and through her program and my ability to heal began. I was reintroduced to relaxation on a higher level and was able to surrender my constant worry to a place where I needed to be with both responsibilities for which I was deeply committed. Peggy has the ability to transform a hectic situation to a place of peace and this allowed me to handle this pressure with a clear mind. She has given me a gift that I will be able to put into practice whenever I'm overwhelmed. I am so very grateful for her and her talent and compassion. MLD
*I live with pain 24/7 , most days I have learned to handle it but some days are worse depending on the weather. Since having sessions with Peggy I am able to use her methods to ease the pain on my bad days. It is like I'm training my brain but it works. I do feel better and most times at night it makes it easier to get to sleep, without medication. Its like sitting in a hot tub but i use my brain to change my focus from horrible pain to something you can live with. I highly recommend Peggy for anyone that has pain in there life, she will brighten your day. J.K.
*Peggy has helped me with my chronic headaches and shoulder pain. Before seeing her, I was getting headaches just about every day. Now, I only get them once in a while and when I get bad ones, I schedule a massage with her and have her work it away! Devin W.
Lisa's experience with her 1st AAT Treatment
*I am still amazed at the results from the treatment I had. I had been dealing with a high level of stiffness. Walking was strenuous. Very little flexibility. Very little good sleep. Extreme fatigue. Lots of depression as I felt hopeless. I was in a downward spiral with the pain/decreased motion. The day after treatment I had a slight headache.
*First I regained a lot of my flexibility.
*I can turn at the waist, bend over to touch my toes, turn my neck. I can get up off a chair or bed by myself without having to navigate it or need help.
*I can tie my own shoes.
*I can now walk up and down steps with 1 foot per step as opposed to my 2 feet per step.
* I don't feel like I am walking through water all the time which is resulting in less fatigue and more energy.
*Best of all.. I only get up from discomfort once a night, I was getting up 10 times a night from pain before.
My wrist is still hurting but less.. and I have a bit more flexibility.
Now that I am feeling better I can work with gradual exercise to build up my strength and feel more hopeful.
This is so amazing! See you soon.
Patient with Anxiety
I have Cerebral Palsy and have relied on the use of a wheelchair for most of my life. As I’ve gotten older, activities of normal daily living have become more difficult requiring that modifications be made in my home to allow me to access the bathroom in my wheelchair and to safely negotiate a transfer to the toilet. In the past, I was able to simply stand up using crutches and negotiate any bathroom setting. Additionally, a few years ago my best friend/roommate began to experience some serious health issues which eventually led to major surgery after she almost died. Suddenly this woman whom I rely on for help with almost everything, despite her own disability, became vulnerable. Shortly thereafter, I was laid off from my job with a company I had been employed with for sixteen years. This company had accommodated my needs as my condition worsened and was now housed in a brand new building that was quite literally designed in many areas to be accessible for me. These events drastically altered my life and traumatized me to the point that a significant level of anxiety began to impede my everyday functioning. I was terrified.
As a Clinical Social Worker/Counselor I knew that I was suffering from a diagnosable clinical anxiety and possibly depression. Having been in therapy in the past, I considered returning to my former counselor but decided that my existing support system offered me everything a counselor could provide already. So, I began to consider medication as a possible option. This was a very upsetting notion as I had debilitating adverse reactions to antidepressant medication in the past. My husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1994 and his condition had seriously deteriorated in a short time. I became overwhelmed with the impact this had on our life together and spoke to my primary care physician, Dr. Jules Barkow. We agreed that I would try a minimal dosage of Paxil. Unfortunately, Paxil reacted with my Cerebral Palsy and after only one dose my muscles became so tight and rigid that I was literally unable to move. Now faced with uncontrollable anxiety impeding all aspects of my life, I was desperate for relief and again considered medication. I turned to my new primary care physician, Dr. Edward Ciecko. Words cannot express my confidence in this man nor his skill as a doctor. He is a blessing to me and I explained to him all of my emotional pain as well as my serious concerns. We agreed to try a less than therapeutic dose of Wellbutrin. Immediately, I began to notice impairments in my fine motor skills. I had difficulty writing, typing and cutting food. I knew something was wrong but tried to convince myself that it wasn’t the Wellbutrin because I was so desperate for relief of the anxiety. I managed these symptoms for several weeks until I experienced a full blown panic attack while in route to a family function. I had the driver turn around, take me home, cried for an hour or more and finally took one of my friend’s Xanax to calm down. We called our doctor the next day and he recommended increasing the Wellbutrin to the therapeutic dose. Within one day, I had the exact same reaction as had occurred with the Paxil so, my doctor advised me to discontinue the Wellbutrin. He felt all antidepressant medications would have similar effects so, we agreed to give me a prescription for Xanax p.r.n.. I don’t like taking the Xanax because I feel that it’s a band-aid that’s not really solving the problem. That being said, I continued to seek alternative treatments and finally a friend recommended Biofeedback/Neurofeedback as a possible intervention.
While researching Biofeedback/Neurofeedback, I read many articles on the internet, consulted with a leading practitioner and enlisted the help of my aunt who had knowledge of a variety of Holistic healing methods. As I became more familiar with these intervention techniques, I became concerned about the impact of my Cerebral Palsy in terms of relaxation, meditation and regulated breathing. Throughout my life the word “relax” has been a curse word that meant anything but that. As a person with Cerebral Palsy, simply being told to relax was enough to cause all muscles to tighten making “relaxing” near impossible. Despite these reservations, I contacted a practitioner and scheduled an appointment to begin treatment with Biofeedback. Around the same time, my aunt contacted me indicating that she may have found something that would help me.
I was blessed to be introduced to Associative Awareness Technique (AAT) by Peggy DeMaio.AAT and Reflexercise are the answers to a prayer in learning to manage the anxiety that has overshadowed all areas of my life for the past few years. Now the word “relax” has become synonymous with Reflexercise and I simply “assume the position” as they say and I’m able to relax more fully than ever before. While working with Peggy, I also began the Biofeedback treatment with Dr. Virginia Koutsourus. I was immediately impressed with how these two interventions could work together. Actually, had it not been for Reflexercise I’m not sure that I could have even begun Biofeedback treatment. Dr. Koutsourus chose to use Biofeedback strategies centered on regulated breathing to work with me. She used a computer program known as HeartMath to monitor my heart rate variability (HRV). We looked at a baseline stress evaluation in my first session where she measured my responses in a normal state, angered/ agitated state and a “relaxed” state. The differences in the waves of the “relaxed” state were unbelievable. She asked what I had done to “relax” and after a glance to my friend, I told her about Reflexercise.
It has been almost 3 months since I began treatment with AAT & Biofeedback. I shared the following events regarding my Biofeedback session in an email to Peggy a few weeks ago. Thedoctor was very late and by the time she arrived, our ride was due in about 30 minutes. As two persons in wheelchairs, we rely on SEPTA’s CCT Connect as our main source of transportation. CCT Connect offers door-to-door van service for persons with disabilities and the elderly. In theory, this sounds wonderful but rides must be reserved in advance, meaning that one must always anticipate how long any activity might take. Imagine needing to always guess how long the lines will be to go holiday shopping, how long will we wait for a table to have dinner or how long will we wait to see the doctor or have this test completed. Of course, the rides are late at times so, when we do plan our trips we must always allot extra travel time to get to our destination. Therefore, a one hour doctor’s appointment becomes a four hour event for us. It’s how we live our lives so we accept it but there are times when unforeseen things happen like the doctor being late because of an emergency. That doesn’t matter with our pre-arranged transportation, if the ride arrives we have 5 minutes to board the vehicle or they leave you and there isn’t another ride coming back for you. Thus, her delay normally would have made me crazy that we were going to miss our ride. We had already ‘walked”, meaning driven our power wheelchairs, home twice from this appointment in the dark, in severe weather and it is a long, rather dangerous walk. So that ride thing was in the back of my mind but.....”today I will live my life....this is for me, about me, by me”.....and “today I will love openly and completely starting with ME!!!!” Therefore, I assertively took care of me and communicated that although I understood she had been delayed by an emergency, we needed to leave by 7:00pm because we couldn't miss our ride. Then the magic happened, I briefly described to her how truly GREAT I've been doing including the amazing benefits of AAT. I also explained how AAT and the biofeedback regulated breathing go together so well. She leafs through the log I've been keeping, seems impressed but somewhat disbelieving so, we agree to do a baseline heart rate evaluation to again view my normal state, anxious state and my relaxed state. All three diagrams looked almost the same. It was awesome!!!! Even forcing myself to concentrate on normally stress inducing issues with my mother, I couldn't stop my body from staying in a calm and relaxed state. I knew I was doing well and that the anxiety was no longer ruling me but to see it in black and white on the monitor like that confirmed what I already knew. I told her flat out "AAT has changed my life". The anxiety is there and it's supposed to be. Fear and anxiety have a purpose but when they enter into situations unnecessarily and excessively I immediately respond with Reflexercise, regulated breathing and Tapping. Then, I do the Listening if I'm home and able to.Truthfully, I feel like my whole disposition has become more calm and relaxed all the time. Balanced is the most appropriate word to describe it. Peaceful and balanced and if something disturbs the balance AAT strategies bring it right back. The doctor was blown away. We even agreed that she would call me in a month to check in because I'm doing so great. Therefore, there's no reason to schedule another appointment right now.
Peggy’s sincere, caring, and soothing presence has created an environment where I have felt safe to reexamine various aspects of my life and identify some of the factors contributing to this anxiety. I have begun to understand how former coping strategies are no longer benefitting me while beginning to utilize new thought patterns and behaviors to cope more effectively with current life stressors. I have also begun to recognize some core fears based on inaccurate perceptions of myself that actually fuel my anxiety. Thanks to Peggy and AAT, I am beginning to leave my old thoughts, behavior patterns and coping skills behind and look forward to a future of feeling more empowered, balanced and flexible. T.L.