One of my clients is an ex-fireman who retired from the FDNY after developing PTSD following the events of 9/11. I will call him Bill.

Years of risking his life walking into burning buildings took its toll and when the two towers went down he could no longer do that job—or any other. He was terrified to leave his apartment for ten years. There was no peace. Downtown Manhattan, the subways…everything filled him with angst.

He was not alone. Many of his comrades suffered as well. His best friend hung himself, and that spurred Bill to action.

He tried many therapies, and all helped to a degree. The most beneficial was his taijiquan practice. While doing his form, and for some time after, the demons retreated into the mists. But they always returned. We met when he attended one of my “Love or Fear” seminars, and then he came to me for private lessons. His taijiquan steadily improved (and continues to) but true peace of mind remained elusive.

One day he said to me, “Am I a schmuck for not doping up on meds? Is this how it’s always going to be?” I suggested he try the energy medicine approach and see if that did the trick. He couldn’t believe how much better he felt after one session. After a few weeks he beamed and said, “I don’t even know that guy who was asking for meds a few weeks ago.”

Bill wrote this:

I suffered from PTSD (complex trauma) from working 20 years at the FDNY and also from the stress of the aftermath of 9/11. Everything I tried worked to some degree: psychotherapy, bodywork, yoga, EFT…But after ten years, I still had residual trauma.

But after working with Rick Barrett, I realized how effective his approach was. Gains that had previously taken years were now seen in months, and sometimes even weeks. Fear of trains and lower Manhattan were gone. Relationship problems were greatly improved.

After experiencing the devastating effect of trauma in my life and witnessing it in close friends, I feel the most effective way I can help is by recommending Mr. Barrett’s work.

The underlying assumption in my work is that the body-mind seeks to become whole—unto itself and also in relation to its environment. The term “heal” derives from an Anglo-Saxon term meaning “whole.” In trauma, the body-mind has been knocked so far out of resonance with the environment that it has lost its own sense of wholeness. The world seems threatening and that sends the nervous system into a state of hypervigilance and overwhelm.

My work seeks to restore homeostasis within and improve one’s ability to go into rhythm with the world as it is. Return to wholeness.

Psychological trauma and PTSD are extreme forms of a condition shared by many humans: unhappiness. In this series, I will discuss some of the tools and techniques we can use to find happiness, health, and well being in a world that can appear quite hostile at times.