Posted by Sharon Schendel on Mar 10, 2018
Dr. Brian Alman with his cousin, Marlene Gotz
Brian Alman, Ph.D., joined our March 1 meeting to talk about stress reduction techniques he’s developed as a practicing clinical psychologist. Dr. Alman’s own experiences with chronic back pain that began in childhood inspired him to pursue a career that allowed him to help others use techniques that engage both the body and mind to work towards healing.
Stress is a major contributor to health problems, and its economic impacts in terms of medical expenses and lost productivity are significant. Dr. Alman referenced the Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) study, ground-breaking work led by Kaiser Permanente that collected data on more than 17,000 HMO patients between 1995 and 1997. This study developed the ACE score to describe the number and types of adverse events that children experience, including mental and/or sexual abuse, or emotional and/or physical neglect. Later studies correlated higher ACE scores with lower health and increased risk for early death. Because children lack the range of experiences and coping skills of adults, these ACEs can translate to physiological effects that have long-term consequences. In the context of his presentation, Dr. Alman showed results from one study indicating individuals who have high ACE scores have a higher risk of depression.
Dr. Alman has developed several techniques that allow his patients to draw on inner resources to mitigate the negative effects of stress.  Many of his approaches are breathing based, and he shared one simple technique during his presentation.  He asked us to breathe normally, and, upon exhaling, say our name.  After several exhales, he then asked us to state a brief goal (e.g., “focus”, “accept”) during inhalation.  Overall, Dr. Alman thinks of stress-related symptoms as “signals” that should be acknowledged rather than ignored and that these signals can be used to create strategies to enhance overall resilience in the face of stress. 
Thank you to our member Marlene Gotz, for arranging to have Dr. Alman (who is her cousin) speak to our club.  Dr. Alman invites us to attend his March 29 workshop on stress management. All proceeds from the workshop will be donated to Father Joe’s Villages.