The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic

Acupuncture at CMCC

In my healing practice I have watched Healing Touch sessions make a remarkable and dramatic difference in the lives of my clients who were going through chemotherapy and radiation. Because of this, I would like to see every person with a cancer diagnosis have access to Healing Touch treatments.

That’s why I have been a volunteer at the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic in Oakland since 2008.

The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic (CMCC) is a state licensed primary care clinic and a community of healthcare practitioners dedicated to bringing low-income women alternative healthcare. Designed to work alongside the services of a primary care physician, CMCC is also a center where women with a cancer diagnosis can find consistent physical, emotional and spiritual support through healing modalities.

The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic was named after social worker Charlotte Maxwell, who died of ovarian cancer in 1988. Charlotte was an extraordinary woman who found that complementary therapies greatly enhanced the quality of her life, especially in the final months. Her healthcare practitioners were so inspired by her spirit that they founded The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic. They wanted to make acupuncture, energy work and other complementary modalities accessible to women who otherwise would not be able to afford them.

Navigating our healthcare system, even with insurance and a strong emotional and financial support system, can be overwhelming. Navigating our healthcare system without insurance can be devastating. At CMCC, it is so rewarding to see a women who looked fatigued and exhausted, walk out or her Healing Touch session with a smile on her face so much more relaxed.

At CMCC I have worked with women of all ages and diverse cultural backgrounds. I find it so exciting to work in a clinic where the value of complementary modalities is understood and put into action in the community. The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic is a working model of how people with cancer are benefiting from alternative medicine in our healthcare system.

Volunteering at CMCC is a rewarding experience. As a volunteer, I received a weekend of orientation and training, and was then scheduled for one shift a month with clients.  I see three clients during my shift. I get there thirty minutes before my first client to look over the medical charts. Everything about the client is in the charts: when she was diagnosed, what kind of cancer she has or had, what Western treatments she is currently going through, and any contraindications. I can look at what modalities or treatments the client has had in the past and read the notes from those practitioners. If the woman doesn’t speak English, that is also in the file and the clinic usually provides a translator.

Sessions with clients are 50 minutes each.  At the end of each shift all practitioners and staff support gather to check in. Check-ins have been extremely educational for me. I have learned so much more about cancer and the current Western medical therapies. By listening to the other practitioners, I have also learned the amazing benefits of other complementary modalities such as Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Therapeutic Imagery, Feldenkrais and Western Herbs.

At the check-in, if circumstances warrant it, practitioners can write referrals for their clients to the CMCC staff. This could be for a woman who needs special preparation before an upcoming surgery or a client who needs special care due to an infection. Appropriate staff members will then call the client and make sure the client is taken care of.

The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic also has presentations and workshops for volunteers on each modality the clinic offers and lectures on topics such as “The Basics of the Biology of Cancer.” I attended two separate talks on chemotherapy by oncology nurses from the Bay Area that have been extremely helpful while working at the clinic and in my private practice.

Since volunteering at The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic I can picture how our healthcare system can integrate Healing Touch and other complementary modalities into our medical culture. It is inspiring to work in a community with so many caring and committed women coming together to help each other. Working at Charlotte Maxwell gives me the hope to believe we can change our healthcare system to a culture where everyone is cared for emotionally, physically and energetically.

The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic has an office in San Francisco and an office in Oakland, California. To find out more and to support the work of CMCC click here.

Jeri Lawson is a Healing Touch Practitioner and Clarity Breathworker in the Temescal Area of Oakland, California.

Healing Touch and Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Quan Yin With Houseplants

I worked with a wonderful young woman who came to me in the middle of her recovery of an autoimmune disease called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which is often referred to as (GBS).

GBS affects the peripheral nervous system with symptoms of weakness, tingling and paralysis that begins in the feet and hands and migrates toward the trunk. In extreme cases clients can experience total paralysis, yet most people recover with treatment from even the most severe cases of GBS.

When this client came she had plateaued in her healing process. The onset of GBS had started four months earlier, right after she’d had a flu. She still had severe headaches, pain in her body, nausea, fatigue and felt highly sensitive to her environment. She could not drive or go back to work, and she came to me because she felt she needed an energetic jump-start.

During the healing sessions that lasted about a year and a half, I helped her clear and balance her energy field. She always looked so much more relaxed after each session, the difference before and after was profound. She was eventually able to drive and go back to work part-time.

She told me the first few sessions were the most dramatic for her and helped her release the intense pain she had at the base of her skull and top of her head. She also said the main benefit of our sessions was the deep relaxation she experienced and that it helped her connect with her body in a more positive way.

I know our Healing Touch sessions were deeply supportive to my client. Was it just this particular client or is Healing Touch especially helpful to people with healing from GBS? I know my other clients with autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis and celiac disease, have benefited from Healing Touch treatments.

Note: Just so you know, I always email my clients and get their approval before I write about them. The clients I am describing in my posts are people I’ve worked with years ago. I don’t write about current clients. You can certainly come for a healing and not have a post written about you!

Healing Touch: A Client with Back Pain

My Healing Room

I worked with a woman who had serious back pain for 3 years before she came to see me. There were months when she could not sit in a chair for more than 5 minutes or walk for more than half an hour because of the lower back pain she was experiencing. She is a lawyer and, because of her pain, she had to work on her computer lying down.

She initially came to me for a massage, but because her body was so sensitive I suggested a Healing Touch session instead. Healing Touch involves the gentlest of touches and can be done not touching the body at all.

For her, Healing Touch turned out to be the only thing that gave her any relief for years. It did not “cure” her, but our sessions gave her body the chance it needed to rest from the sensation of pain, which was exhausting her, so she could eventually develop the energetic and physical strength to go to a chiropractor. Dr. Michelle Reddel helped her address some of the structural issues her body she was dealing with.

When she arrived for our sessions she was usually in severe pain   — a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the most painful. In our healings the pain always left in the first few minutes of the session. It was really amazing. Her body would then frequently spasm during the sessions, often just a quick kick or leg release. Sometimes her hip or shoulder muscles would rhythmically contract and release for several minutes. The healing were very relaxing for her and she would then be pain free after the session for several days. From my perspective, that gave her body time to rest and heal.

We worked together for 5 years. During that time I always wished our healings would “cure” her pain, yet I was always in awe of how effective our sessions were in relieving her pain. I have no doubt that it was not me that was doing the healing, but that I was definitely accessing and supporting something in her energy field that was healing her.

She now enjoys a life of normal activity. I continue to see her and give her Healing Touch sessions maybe once a year now if she has a flair up or just needs a “tune up.”

Many thanks to my client who approved and help edit this post.

Healing Touch: Relieving Pain from Back Injuries

Roses From A Client

Many of my clients first come to me because of physical pain. In my healing practice I have always had fairly good results relieving pain of all kinds of conditions in the physical body. Back and neck pain are the most common issues.

For many clients I am their last resort. They have usually tried every other practitioner and therapy first. Energetic healing may not be a part of their world view, but they are so desperate they will try anything, so they call me.

I have had many sessions with clients where the back pain disappears with only one healing. These one-shot breakthrough sessions are not the norm, yet it does happen. Of course I can’t help but love it when this happens, but I try not to get to attached to any outcome.

There are also sessions in which the pain may subside during the healing, but the pain comes back at the same intensity after the session is over. These sessions are the most rare, but they do occur. Again, I do my best to not become attached to the outcome of the healing.

Before starting a healing, I ask my client to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10 to estimate the intensity of the discomfort, with 10 being the most painful and 1 being no pain at all. Usually my client’s pain releases right at the beginning of the session, or at least moves from let’s say an 8 to a 2 or 3.

Sometimes this plateau of relief may last only 10 or 20 minutes into the session, and then the pain comes back, though most of the time the client reports that the pain is significantly less intense. If the back pain does comes back, I address it again by working locally at the painful body area.

Pain takes up a lot of physical energy. In between the pain spikes (if there are any), I focus on rebalancing the whole body so the client can “hold” the new “non-pain” state and stay pain-free and balanced longer. In these sessions I feel like I am retraining the client’s body to feel relaxed and safe. The body is so used to bracing for pain after an injury that our muscles can forget how to relax.

In general, people who have been in pain for a long time usually need several sessions to fully relax. My intention during these sessions is to simply to help the client relax and help their body to feel safe enough to release the pain.

I’ve discovered in my 14 years of working with clients that even experiencing just 5 pain-free minutes to someone who has been in extraordinary agony can shift the injury around toward recovery.

Many people also have anxiety and emotional distress when they have an injury. Dealing with insurance companies and our healthcare system can be very stressful, too. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by conscious and subconscious fears that anything this intense may never be healed or will become a permanent injury. Experiencing even short-term relief during a healing floods the brain with hope that yes, the pain can be healed. That relief helps calm down the mental chatter. I find that calming the mind is just as important as calming the body.

Healing works on all levels: mentally, physically and emotionally. With Healing Touch I have helped many clients make a positive difference in the quality of their lives. If you are curious about getting a session, please feel free to call me. 510-601-9632.

Jeri Lawson is a Healing Touch Practitioner and Clarity Breathworker in the Temescal Area of Oakland, California.