Altrusa Club of Campbell River is a network of friends with a mission to care for its community, and these dedicated women do it with heart.
Altrusa contributes to Campbell River in so many ways from serving lunch to the crew at Habitat for Humanity, providing trauma Bears to the RCMP, and supporting literacy with Book Bags and “Quillows,” to organizing their annual movie sing-a-longs.
The North Island Survivors’ Healing Society is a beneficiary of Altrusa through a donation which allows them to purchase biofeedback technology to help people at the Trauma and Abuse Counselling Centre.
The EmWave2 by HeartMath is a valuable heart-centred and clinically proven tool that the Counselling Centre can use to help individuals struggling with trauma and stress.
The award winning EmWave2 provides biofeedback that accurately shows an individual’s stress level in real time. It picks up stress signals from the heart and creates a graph that is displayed on the computer monitor.
When an individual applies calming techniques, they can see how their body achieves a more relaxed state.
Counsellors can help individuals find the specific techniques that work best for them. Positive thinking, relaxation exercises, visualization, breathing techniques, and specialized computer games are some ways that individuals reduce stress and bring the body back to a relaxed state.
Janet Carmichael, Executive Director, explained that there are a wide variety of people that access trauma and abuse counselling services who could benefit from biofeedback technology.
“Trauma is experienced by different people in different ways,” Carmichael said. “We see people who have experienced situations that are overwhelming or life altering such as a medical diagnosis or a car, work place or recreational accident. We also see people who have been assaulted, have experienced war or natural disasters, and people who were neglected or abused as children or witnessed violence. These individuals can have nervous systems that can become stuck in a state of fight, flight or freeze.”
Research has found that living in a high stress state can create a variety of problems including emotional reactivity, problems sleeping, hyper-vigilance, anxiety attacks, or difficulties with relationships.
“A high stress state helps to ensure our safety when there is a serious threat,” explains Registered Clinical Counsellor, Kate Pinsonneault. “It changes our body chemistry and shuts down certain biological and cognitive functions to maximize our chances of survival. But when the threat has passed, we need to come back to a relaxed state in order for our body, brain, hormones and emotions to function optimally.”
Learning to regulate the body’s response to stressful situations and then being able to relax afterwards is key for people who have experienced trauma. Celia Laval, a registered clinical counsellor, researched several biofeedback options before choosing the EmWave2.
HeartMath, the company that developed the EmWave2, found that using this heart-centred biofeedback technology not only helps people experiencing trauma improve sleep, digestive function and strengthen the cardiovascular system, but also brings positive feelings and emotional stability that helps improve relationships, self-esteem and social confidence.
For more information on the North Island Survivors’ Healing Society or how you can support the work of this non-profit charity, phone Janet Carmichael at 250-287-3325 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Altrusa, their community events, or becoming a member, phone Edie Wilcox at 250-923-3575.