I had the pleasure of speaking with Marylou Gantner, B.G.S. ,(Bachelor of General Studies) yesterday, whom I greatly admire for her work as a scientific relaxation specialist. Gantner, is 72 years old and is based in Orlando Florida where she has been seeing patients for over three decades. She first became intensely involved in the field when she studied under the pioneer for biofeedback, the world-renowned, Joseph Wolpe, M.D.. He taught Gantner that if a person is relaxed they cannot possibly be anxious or tense. Even more importantly, he alleged, that being tranquil is a technical skill that anyone can learn. After my conversation with Gantner, I decided to post what she shared with me in a brief question and answer format.
Q. When did you first start out in practice? And, where were you trained?
A. I have been in private practice since 1977. Before I went off on my own, however, I was an educator and a counselor at the Orlando Regional Medical Center. I attended the Temple University School of Medicine and Behavior Therapy Unit.
Q. Do you still give educational presentations?
A. Yes, I recently participated in an AARP event where I shared methods with which to relax excessive neuromuscular tensions and explained how participants who attended the lecture could live more calmly if they could learn to modify emotional and physiological symptoms.
Q. Tell me about the persons you treat. What type of conditions do people generally come to you with?
A. The bulk of my practice is devoted to helping people counteract chronic tension and anxiety. I work with homemakers and telephone operators, assistants and, business executives as well as surgeons, both the young, and the elderly. One of my patients is a 92-year-old female who was having difficulty sleeping. After a few sessions she claimed “she’d slept better than she had in twenty years.”
Q. Why is chronic tension and anxiety potentially so dangerous?
A. Leading scientists believe that constant worry and aggravation begins to accumulate in the body. Eventually, it all adds up and it takes its toll. Physical and emotional symptoms begin to appear and illness occurs. In some instances, if the stress goes on long enough it results in premature aging and even death.
Q. What are some of the other symptoms of chronic tension that you help to defuse with biofeedback?
A. I see patients with many symptoms attached to chronic tension which include but are not limited to:
- High-blood pressure
- Sleep deprivation
- Eating disorders
- TMJ (tight muscle jaw from grinding teeth)
- Chronic pain and fatigue
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Alcohol abuse
- Fear behaviors
- Hyper-vigilant behavior
- Cardiovascular distress
Q. How can managing stress through biofeedback make a difference?
A. I insist that my patients learn about stress and how to specifically apply the information they receive during their sessions so they can manage their tensions properly. In addition to their biofeedback appointments, this approach determines the health of their minds and bodies and ultimately the quality of our lives.
Q. What other areas do you focus on using biofeedback?
A. Biofeedback can also:
- Enhance creativity
- Elevate confidence
- Bring about greater feelings of satisfaction at work
- Sharpen one’s attention span
- Eliminate fatigue
- Reduce obsessive thoughts
- Control pain impulses
Q. Aside from the education you provide and the biofeedback sessions you offer, is there anything else a person can do?
A. I think that we are all neurologically wired by the universe and that we are capable of naturally addressing our tensions. We have in us what it takes to neutralize stress if we know how to do so. We can alter our thoughts and our perceptions and, consequently, our emotions. There is a lot we can do independently, to reduce our heart rate, improve our respiration, and blood circulation and, to control our body temperature. It is all a matter of finding the optional balance and state, awareness and making constant adjustments as needed.