FNDcourage - Regulating Your Nervous System One Step at a Time.

The Course

The next online FNDcourage skills course starts on November 8th, 2021 and runs for three months.

The live webinars are each week on Mondays at 4:00PM Mountain Standard Time.

A 12-week online somatic-based skills course for individuals diagnosed with

FND.

Your course includes

Lecture

Every week you will engage in a live webinar with Dr. Moenter to learn about a specific FND related topic, connect with other participants, learn skills to help with your FND, and ask topic related questions. The group call happens through zoom, a video conferencing platform which will be available to you at now cost. The lectures are recorded and can be accessed the next morning, if you can not participate in the live call.

Meditations

Each week you will receive a new meditation specifically designed and recorded for FND symptoms to help you feel more grounded, in your body, and resourced.

Study Material

Handouts and homework sheets (mindful check-ins) are provided every week for you to print out and work with on a daily basis.

Private Online Journal

This forum is for current students only. Dr. Moenter offers weekly office hours for: – Q&A Thread: Post your questions that come up with the material and I will offer insight and support. – Homework Thread: Post your assignment each week, discuss your skills use, and engage with other students.

Peer Study Groups

Students who have previously taking the FNDcourage course are sharing their commitment to this process by leading peer study groups. These small groups (approximately five participants per group) are meeting once a week, following the live Monday session, with a sole focus on encouraging each other to engage creatively in the study materials offered. Learning together and sharing your insights makes it easier to stay on track. This is a study group ONLY, the group follows guidelines that clearly focus on the course material, how to better understand the content and how to deepen into the commitment of creating Neuro Health.

This course is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical care and I highly recommend that you are under the care of a trained and licensed mental health professional while participating in this course, to work with any challenging emotions or experiences that might arise. FNDcourage is based in the principles and clinical application of Polyvagal Theory and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy®.

Your Instructor

Dr. Afra Moenter, founder of FNDcourage and the Boulder Center for Neuro Health is a a founding member of FND society. Dr. Moenter has been supporting individuals diagnosed with Functional Neurological Symptoms for over 15 years.

Her special interest in FND started in 2002 while researching for her doctoral dissertation on complex partial epilepsy and PTSD. It was then that she experienced how deeply effective Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® is in the healing process of individuals diagnosed with FND, and over the years her curiosity and commitment to helping individuals with FND lead to a trauma-informed treatment protocol that has helped many to self-regulate the FND nervous system.

At the heart of the Three Foundations is the idea that functional neurological symptoms are the whole-body-systems attempt to reorganize a state of equilibrium. A FND brain is dysregulated, caught between hyper-activation (panic, fight, -or flight reaction, hypervigilance) and hypo-activation (freeze, numbness, dissociation, confusion). Through somatic based health coaching, the individual experiencing FND can learn how to self-regulate the over, – or under-activated nervous system, and find what Dr. Moenter calls an “unshakable ground” to walk on.

The use of this body based approach has become more refined and sophisticated during Dr. Moenter’s daily dedication to helping those with FND, her practice of relational mindfulness, her 25 years of extensive training and experience in working with symptoms of chronic stress and trauma, and her everlasting curiosity about how to end unnecessary suffering. Dr. Moenter received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Sciences with a concentration in Psychology and a specialization in Neuropsychology, as well as a M.A. in Therapeutic Psychology.

Your Curriculum

Week 1

Understanding FND from a Polyvagal and Sensorimotor Perspective:
Learning about the autonomic nervous system and understanding FND from that perspective is the first step of your healing journey. The tools offered will allow you to slowly identify symptoms early and stop the progression. This is the beginning of you self-regulating the FND nervous system.

Week 2

Interoception, Core Organizers, and FND:
FND happens in your body. Being more in touch with your body (increasing your interoception), and being able to notice small shifts and changes (tracking) will allow you to be more present (dissociation can be part of FND) and use the tools you use in this course more effectively.

Week 3

Mindfulness, Habits, and Movement:
Mindfulness based practice have shown to have a positive impact on chronic illness and are the foundation of FNDcourage. Dr. Moenter wrote all of the meditations for the course and they are narrated by a professional narrator. Habits and involuntary movements play a large role in functional symptoms. One of Dr. Moenter's working hypothesis is that FND is stored in procedural memory (muscle memory) and she talks about how to potentially change this dynamic.

Week 4

Resources – Creating Inner and Outer Resources:
Creating and deepening into resources are crucial on your healing journey. Dr. Moenter introduces the concept of "inner" (like positive memories, supportive thought patterns etc.), and "outer" resources (friends, FNDcourage, books etc.) and talks about how to deepen into "creative" resources.

Week 5

Self-Regulation of the FND Nervous System:
Learning how to "self-regulate" your FND nervous system is the heart of this course. The concept of FND being an expression of a dysregulated nervous system is the basis of Dr. Moenter's work in her one-on-one NeuroHealth Coaching sessions.

Week 6

Dissociation and Imbalances:
Dissociation is often part of your FND experience. Dissociation happens on a continuum from spacing out, feeling disconnected from your body and the world, to having episodes of complete loss of consciousness or seizures. Dr. Moenter talks about how to stay more present, in your body and with yourself, to more easily notice small changes in your nervous system activation and though stop the further progression of your symptoms.

Week 7

Trauma, Resilience, and Boundaries:
Having experienced chronic stress or trauma in your life and building greater resilience might be part of your FND healing process. This week Dr. Moenter focuses on how our nervous system responds to trauma and how that might be contributing to your FND. The main focus though is on how to build greater resilience and how to set healthy boundaries so you can support your body, mind, and emotions.

Week 8

Sensory-Sensitivities and FND:
Many of you experience sensory-sensitivities as part of your FND. Dr. Moenter discusses how sensory processing works and how a disruption or imbalance of your ability to process sensory input might co-exist with your FND. She also gives many examples of how to slowly increase your ability to stay present with sensory stimuli and how to move forward with that aspect of your life.

Week 9

Emotions, Belief Systems, and FND:
Emotions are a big part of how we experience life and play a key role in your FND. Dr. Moenter touches on how the amygdala (the emotion center of the brain) might be connected to your FND, how you can better process and be with your emotions and how we all create belief systems that impact our perspective on life and your FND specifically.

Week 10

Attachment, FND, and how to be with Others:
Some of the FND research points to the importance early childhood attachment might play in the onset of FND. Dr. Moenter talks about what attachment is and how you can heal "insecure" attachment later in life which contributes to a more regulated nervous system.

Week 11

Wholeness and Integration:
During this webinar Dr. Moenter weaves all the different aspects of this skills training together, touching on the most important concepts she introduced and allowing for the bigger picture to come together.

Week 12

Moving Forward: Joy, Gratitude, and Health:
This week is an important part of your journey. So often we forget to be playful, to experience gratitude, to share moments of peace and progress, when being caught in FND. Here we talk about how to touch back into a body, a world, that can feel safe.

My clients have taught me, educated me, invited me to deeply understand the complexity of FND. Without their help I would have not come to a place of such intimate understanding of an experience that might have one name, though shows up in such unique ways. FND is never the same, it is deeply personal.

Afra Moenter, Ph.D.

Body: Befriending and Healing

Functional Neurological Symptoms are an expression of your body.

At the level of body, you may experience uncontrollable shaking, difficulty breathing, clenching, paralysis, inability to speak, or stiffening of the body. 

Pat Ogden (2006) describes the importance of directly working with the body in the healing process “Without the balance of non-linguistic world of images, feelings, and sensations, the seduction of words and ideas can keep us from direct experience in our daily lives and professional work…In a psychotherapeutic setting, focusing primarily on word-based thinking and narratives can keep therapy at a surface level and trauma [or FND] may remain unresolved. (p. xiv)

As part of The FNDcourage course you will discover how to listen more deeply to your body, identify and stay present with physical sensations, and respond to these signals in order to interrupt the cycle of your episodes. You will learn how your nervous system works and how to down-regulate (relax) or up-regulate (if in a state of hypo-activation) your nervous system using specific skills such as resourcing, breath, and movement practices.

Mind: You Are Not Your Thoughts

Functional Neurological Symptoms are an expression of your mind.

At the level of mind, you may experience racing thoughts, negative beliefs about yourself, repetitive worries, intrusive memories, constant fears about the future. The mind may tell you to avoid certain aspects of your life because of the possibility of having an episode.

 

Within the Foundation of Mind you will discover that you do not always have to believe your thoughts. You will become more aware of how your thoughts affect the way your body reacts and how, in turn, your interpretation of these physical sensations affects the way you feel.

By being a “witness” to your internal narrative, your body can relax into the present moment rather than re-live the past or anticipating the future.

Emotions: Finding Freedom

Functional Neurological Symptoms are an expression of your emotions.

At the level of emotion, you may experience helplessness, fear, confusion, hopelessness, isolation, shame, anger, overwhelm, anxiety, or loss of control. These are very common feelings for people who have been diagnosed with FND.

Within the Foundation of Emotion you will discover that these feelings are normal and healthy reactions to an overwhelming and often misunderstood life situation. You will become more aware of the human tendency to struggle against painful emotions and chase pleasant emotions.

In learning neither to push away nor hold onto emotions, you build the capacity to experience the full spectrum of feelings and tap into their natural wisdom. This “emotional freedom” allows you to slow down and change the neuropathways of the FND spiral.

Functional Neurological Symptoms are real. They are explainable. They are not just something you have to deal with, but neuro-physiological expressions of a dysregulated nervous system, and often an expression of great suffering. You are not making it up, it is not just in your head, and you can’t just get over it. And yet, you are not a victim, you can learn about your body, your nervous system, emotions, thoughts, and become free not only of FND, but your limiting beliefs, overwhelming emotions, and unhelpful habits.