What is a modality stack? How do I know what stack is best for me?
Modality stack is a unique term born out of an unusual space. I was sitting around the dining room table with friends one night and we were playing our usual card game of Magic the Gathering. Some of you will be familiar with this game, but for those who are not it is a card game that involves creating competitive decks and running them against your friends to see who has the better performing deck of cards. It get rowdy and competitive. While I was waiting on my turn my mind was wandering and I was trying to figure out what to call a series of services that are scheduled back to back. Nothing was coming to mind. I played a card that would have wiped the board and given me the upper hand but my husband played a card quickly and said "I am playing this on the stack" and his cards remained safe untouched on the board. Meanwhile, I am having a brain blast because little did he know he just gave me the best idea on how to term and describe services in a close sequence. That is the night that modality stacks was born. I am excited to share this idea and this term with our clients and surrounding professionals.
When Greg approached me in 2020 and asked if I would join his team he described his vision of bringing multiple holistic treatment modalities together in on place. He envisioned clients who are currently in counseling also getting massage to help compliment the service. We ran this idea many times many different ways from October 2020 to current. The most common stack clients scheduled was massage followed by counseling. They reported that when they scheduled this stack sequence the counseling session was more successful. They felt more relaxed and less anxious and were getting deeper into the thick of the treatment earlier into the session. One of the most difficult things a therapist struggles with is running out of time in a session. You get your client finally to relax and open up and the session is about over. We all noticed a significant shift in those clients who scheduled bodywork prior to their counseling session.
Moving forward with his dream, Greg trained in and brought on neurofeedback. LENS has quickly become a popular stack modality to both counseling and massage. It helps in the rewiring of the brain to break unhealthy patterns and conditions like anxiety and depression. LENS has been shown to be most helpful in a modality stack immediately following a counseling session.
Later in 2021, Greg and I trained in Reiki and started to expand into what is now known as Isch Wellness Center. He brought on a few more practitioners and expanded his service offerings. We have continued to work with clients in their modality stacks to see what works best.
As with most treatments, the modality stack that works best is unique to the client. Some find booking many services close together to be intense and often take a few days to process after a stack series. After any treatment there is a window of about 48 hours where the mind, body, or both are in a recalibration phase where they are starting to understand and integrate the treatment. You may be familiar with this feeling if you have ever gotten a massage, gone to counseling, worked out, or done meditation. We have found that this 48 hour window is the sweet spot for stacking other modalities in. The mind and body are primed and open for the next service making it more effective and more potent. This creates a longer lasting result and speeds up the healing journey. If you are currently attending counseling, getting massage, and doing other forms of self care like yoga or meditation but they are spread out throughout the month, try stacking them. It will get you off of the plateau and jump you into that next level of treatment.
Healing is not goal oriented and one pitfall I find clients in is that they are trying to go hard to get to the core of the issue so that everything else falls away. Healing is unfortunately gradual and has to be taken in gradual steps or layers. You cannot rush or force the process or you risk traumatizing the body or the mind. The modality stack is not meant to overwhelm or force the system into revealing trauma its not ready for. It is designed to treat the many faucets of trauma from every angle working with the mind and body to gradually lead you down through the layers.
Through working with this treatment style I have seen clients in many phases but my absolute favorite is maintenance or what I call wellness. There is a shift that happens in the journey where your healing is maintaining and you become aware of feelings in the moment and you handle them in the moment. This shift brings the body out of survival mode and into creation mode. Its in this space that I see clients glow. They glow with confidence and are full of vibrant energy. They have more happy days where they feel good instead of rough painful days. All have said they cannot believe they could function how they were before and never want to return to that. The fastest transition I have personally seen was six months. I spent six months with a severe PTSD client with depression. He scheduled a treatment stack that involved a 2 hour biweekly massage, a one hour weekly counseling session (sometimes with EMDR added) immediately followed by a LENS treatment bi-weekly. He stacked his massage two days before his counseling session and went right into LENS after his counseling session. It worked in his schedule that way and seemed to work very well for him. He has continued his journey at a slower rate and continues to progress successfully.
Because we have limited service, availability, and practitioners we look forward to working alongside other professionals. We want to keep the focus on the treatment path of the client and open up the opportunity to create the ideal treatment stack. I look at a modality stack from a wide angle and consider anything that brings balance to the mind and body as a self-care modality. This could include sound therapy, art therapy, acupuncture, cupping, movement styles like yoga, palates, or dancing. The stack is not limited to only holistic alternative therapies.
We look forward to the opportunity to help you find your ideal modality stack and progress along your wellness journey.
-Emorie Marine LMT