A Local Practice Helps Clients Tackle Stress Through a Unique Therapy

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Kimberly and Patrick Jeffs with their two daughters
Kimberly and Patrick Jeffs with daughters Poppy, 8, and Pascale Margaret, 3.

 

Husband-and-wife duo Kimberly and Patrick Jeffs opened their practice to educate and help others through somatic psychotherapy

By Melissa Kaye  |  Photography by Beth Mann

 

In the corner of Kimberly and Patrick Jeffs’ living room sits a black-and-white-striped teepee. At first glance, a visitor might think it’s a play area for the Jeffs’ two daughters, Pascale Margaret, 3, and Poppy, 8. But it’s more than that – the teepee offers a space for anyone in the family who’s feeling overwhelmed to focus, breathe deeply and feel calm again. With tools, including a weighted blanket, stress balls and pillows, the dwelling offers the type of healing method at the heart of the Jeffs’ business practice, the NC Center for Resiliency PLLC (NCCR).

“It’s our family regulation tent,” Patrick explains with a smile. “We do our best to practice what we preach.”

The couple founded NCCR four years ago to fill a niche in somatic psychotherapy, which has been around for more than 50 years, but is not as prevalent in North Carolina. The couple has been working to educate others in the area about the body-centered therapy. It focuses on the mind-body connection in response to trauma and stress. “We’re teaching people about their own bodies, so they can feel more connected to themselves and to others,” Kim says.

To accomplish this, they help people move to a state of flow (known as coherence) where all systems of the body are working in harmony. “When we’re in a state of flow, we’re more creative, [we] have positive social relationships, and we’re mentally and physically healthy,” Kim explains.

Kim gives an example of someone who has problems with alcohol. The alcohol is a coping strategy; if you take it away, the individual may suffer from a variety of nervous system issues, including increased heart rate, hormone or blood pressure fluctuations, inability to cope or difficulty maintaining relationships due to the signals that are sent to the brain from the body, which creates a flight, fight or freeze response. “They may experience elevated heart rate akin to running on a treadmill,” Kim says, “and sitting in AA meetings every day will only help them so much. We’ll work with patients to help them shift their physiology out of trauma or high stress. We teach folks about the sensations in the body and how, through self-awareness and self-regulation, we can bring the body into better balance. For example, we might ask a client to talk about a time when they felt most like themselves. In bringing up this memory, the felt sense of the body might have pleasurable sensations and body memories and [cause] their pulse rate to go down. The goal is to achieve that optimal, low-stress physiology on their own, so they won’t have the urge to medicate.” The therapists at NCCR also address the body holistically by working with other providers in the community and addressing changes to diet, nutrition and lifestyle – all of which can impact mental health.

NC Center for Resiliency
The striped teepee offers a space for anyone in the family who’s feeling overwhelmed to focus and feel calm again.

Kim and Patrick opened the center because they saw a need. Each had their own somatic psychotherapy practices, but they were full. They also were approached by therapists who wanted to train with them. Starting the center was a way to combine their practices and educate others. Their practice has since grown to 12 therapists who work with 300 to 350 clients a week. Individuals may be grappling with problems like eating disorders, addiction, chronic pain and autoimmune diseases, while families seek help with parent-child struggles, among other issues.

Kim explains that many people need ways to cope with the everyday; you don’t need to be suffering from a traumatic event to benefit from the therapy. “Our culture values being on a high-stress level all the time,” she says, adding that everything from constant news cycles to demanding work expectations can contribute to that stress.

The therapists at the center – who have different training backgrounds, including traditional talk therapy and art therapy – work with clients to identify how to stay in a low-stress state. Some of the tools used are different from traditional talk therapy and include weighted blankets, pulse oximeters, stability balls, skin brushes and other items that will help a person be in tune with the sensations in their body to reach its optimal state of functioning. “The somatic lens helps to create a level of understanding beyond talking about the traumatic experience,” Patrick says. 

Two years ago, the couple took what they’ve accomplished at an individual and family level to a more corporate level with a second business called The Resiliency Solution. In this effort, they consult with larger entities, including businesses, health care systems and even city governments, to help them move away from what Patrick calls a chronic stress system.

“When there’s chronic stress,” Patrick says, “profit, profitability and employee retention go down. Our mission is to create more systemic change in the workplace.” They’re also working with communities on the coast to bring resiliency to those hit by hurricanes.

With two businesses and a family, the couple credits their success to working well together. “We like each other,” Patrick says, adding, “Things she’s good at, I’m far from being good at.” They also maintain a strong work-life balance with plenty of activity: Patrick completes triathlons, and the couple often hikes and rides bikes with their daughters. The girls also love attending women’s sporting events at UNC and the festivals on Franklin Street

And they all take advantage of the teepee space to help manage stress levels. “Sometimes the girls will send me in there if I’m having a hard day,” Kim says.

“We’re passionate about health and healing,” Patrick adds.

 

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Chapel Hill Magazine is a 8-times-a-year lifestyle magazine dedicated to bringing you the very best of Chapel Hill. Our magazine places high emphasis on food and dining coverage, the arts, and community.

 

About Us

Chapel Hill Magazine is a 8-times-a-year lifestyle magazine dedicated to bringing you the very best of Chapel Hill. Our magazine places high emphasis on food and dining coverage, the arts, and community.

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