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What is NET?

NET continued to progress through the work of Drs. Scott and Deb Walker (also a chiropractor), and the demand by other chiropractors to learn NET lead to the establishment of the NET seminar trainings, with the first seminar being taught in May of 1988. As members of the psychotherapeutic community observed significant mental health improvements in their clients under the care of ‘body-oriented’ practitioners, they also became interested in using NET in their own practices, and sought out NET training. Acupuncturists, Naturopaths and many other healthcare practitioners also became increasingly interested in using the NET technology. At about this same time, NET further evolved to include the use of a non-needle acupressure point correction method, which addressed physical imbalances via the meridian system and its effects on nerves and other parts of the body. As a result, many different disciplines in the healing arts are now able to utilize NET, with currently more than 10,000 practitioners from 30+ countries having completed the training.

Although NET was originally developed as a way of finding and correcting an emotional/stress component that was related to a physical problem, very early on patients started reporting that the ‘dramas’ of their lives were improving too. Patients found they were feeling significantly less stressed, happier, more at ease, and so on.

The ‘physiology’ of emotional response
Although the concept of dealing with emotions and stress has long been associated with talk-it-out psychotherapy, counseling, and other therapeutic modalities, NET specifically works with the ‘physiology’ of emotional/stress responses. Extensive scientific research over the past several decades has verified that an emotional/stress expression is a complex reactive pattern of changes in response to a stimulus. This includes changes in neuronal chemistry and neurological, vascular, and muscular tone. The type and intensity of the reaction may occur in response to a specific person or event and may involve widespread physiological changes, such as increased heart rate and inhibition of peristalsis.

NET does not treat ‘emotions’
The goal is to identify and correct physical aberrations (subluxation or meridian imbalance) and not the emotions. In fact, emotions do not need to be corrected. Darwin expounded on emotions in a non-psychological way, supporting the concept that emotions are normal and healthy phenomena found in humans and animals. In an unhealthy organism, however, emotions can cause psychosomatic and somatopsychic problems. In short, NET deals with those weakened physiological states that have ultimately made the body vulnerable to the formation of what NET has defined as a Neuro Emotional Complex (NEC).

Definition of a Neuro Emotional Complex (NEC)
An NEC is defined as a subjective maladaptation syndrome adopted by the human organism in response to a real or perceived threat to any aspect of its survival. A primary goal of NET is to identify and resolve NECs either via the associated vertebral subluxation(s) or active pulse point(s).

The individual’s unique NEC includes:

  • Specific subluxation or sequence of subluxations
  • Specific emotion
    [Note: All NECs have an emotion incorporated in the complex, but not all emotional expressions are incorporated in NECs]
  • Conditioned response (a predisposition for stimulus generalization and a resistance to extinction)
  • Meridian imbalance and active pulse point, with a specific meridian access point
  • Facilitated (strong) or inhibited (weak) muscle response
  • Cathected and often recallable memory picture of a past significant emotional event
    Note: All remembered events related to an NEC are always considered to be ‘Emotional Reality’, as they may or may not correspond with actual or historical reality.]
  • Vulnerability to repetition compulsion, and re-stimulation /re-aggravation causing cyclical reinforcement

NET does not treat emotions, but rather it addresses the physical complex in which an emotion and a related subluxation are component parts.

NET is not counseling
The term ‘emotional’ can conjure up images of clinical counseling, which NET, in fact, does not employ. Although counseling in chiropractic, osteopathic, acupuncture, etc., offices is legal in most (if not all) states in the USA, it is not used in the NET procedure. NET is distinguished from psychotherapy in that it is not a therapy directed to the psyche. It does not employ counseling, nor does it advise behavioral changes. It does not have a goal of insight for the patient. It is not a ‘talk-it-out’ cure. It does not teach anything, and it does not show one how to learn from one’s life experiences.

Neurological basis of NET
Contemporary neuroscience has demonstrated that emotion and our stress responses are largely related to a physiological response in our body. Particularly important is the work of award-winning neuroscientist Candace Pert, PhD, who demonstrated that neuropeptides form the molecular basis of emotion. Neuropeptides are found in all parts of the body and most notably clustered in the posterior horn of the spinal cord. Pert, et. al. also noted that, functionally, the limbic system extends down into the posterior horn of the spinal cord.

On a more macroscopic level, the findings of widely acclaimed and award-winning neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, PhD, demonstrated emotion to be first experienced in the old mammalian brain (or limbic system) and only secondarily in the neocortex. Ledoux’s research demonstrates emotion-induced rapid sub-cortical pathways travel to the thalamus and amygdala first and, only after that, to the cortex.

Neuroscientist Paul MacLean, MD, developed the “Triune Brain” model, separating the brain into reptilian, old mammalian, and neocortical brains. In general, psychotherapy and counseling predominately work with the neocortex (the thinking brain) with such therapeutic approaches as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In contrast, NET works predominately with the old mammalian brain (the feeling brain), which is essentially the limbic system and its associated meridian-related emotional responses.

From its roots: A chiropractic basis of NET
D. D. Palmer stated in 1895, “The determining causes of disease are Traumatism, Poison, & Autosuggestion.” Although his language now sounds archaic, the meaning is clear. Additionally, it should be noted that in the 1920s, the Chiropractic Psychopathic Sanitarium (later known as Forest Park Sanitarium) and Clearview Sanitarium were established in Davenport, Iowa, dedicated to the treatment of emotional disorders through the sole intervention of spinal adjustments. For further historical perspective on chiropractic’s role in the emotional aspect of health care, see the book, Mental Health and Chiropractic: A Multidisciplinary Approach, by Herman Schwartz, published in 1973.

Dr. George Goodheart (the Founder of Applied Kinesiology) and many others have repeatedly observed that recurring spinal subluxations may be associated with other more primary causes, which may be remote from the specific subluxation. They observed that this may include derangement of another joint (spinal or extra-spinal), soft-tissue scar and other abnormal function, nutritional imbalances of many types, and aberrant emotional overlay. This aligns with the original observations and descriptions of chiropractic by D. D. Palmer, the Founder of Chiropractic.

The mechanism of resolution of chronic subluxations via NET
Raymond Nimmo, DC, made a significant contribution to the chiropractic profession when he made the now obvious observation that bones don’t move muscles, but rather, muscles move bones. George Goodheart, DC, among his many significant contributions, laboriously correlated the primary muscles of the body with the major meridians used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which has embraced a mind/body model for more than 1,500 years. The early evolution of NET focused on the muscles, which normally hold the vertebrae in their proper relationships with each other. This focus was later extended to other joints as well.

While the NET technique itself does not sequentially follow the explanation below, the currently understood mechanisms by which NET works are as follows:

  • The presenting (or secondary) subluxation is associated with a muscle or muscles with aberrant tone.
  • The muscle(s) is (are) associated with a meridian (via Goodheart).
  • The meridian (via Five Element Law in Traditional Chinese Medicine) correlates to a group of emotions.
  • The emotion is traced via meridian access points or neurologic relationships to the primary subluxation(s).
  • These primary subluxations have a noxious influence on the meridians and muscles, which influence the presenting (secondary) subluxations.
  • These primary subluxations are then corrected with the result of a newly restored balancing effect on the meridians and muscles and the elimination of (secondary) subluxations.
  • Resolution of a Neuro Emotional Complex (NEC) can occur by restoring homeostasis and allowing for the normal extinction of a conditioned emotional response.

Because NET is a true mind/body or body/mind approach, it fully acknowledges the physical complement of the resistance of the body to NEC formation (in a healthy organism) and the process of NEC resolution.

NET is focused on achieving homeostasis of the human organism. Its method of correction is through the spine or acupuncture point(s). As part of its diagnostic methodology the patient, at times, explores their neuro-emotional case history to assist in the uncovering of the presence of an NEC. Once discovered, the correction is applied. Because psychotherapy is concerned with the cognitive appreciation of the emotional process, any case history that reveals a need for psychotherapy is discussed with the patient, and an appropriate referral can be made.

Informed consent and referral
All practitioners have patients, from time to time, who should be referred. Body-oriented practitioners, need to refer to mind-oriented practitioners when it is necessary and appropriate. Likewise, mind-oriented practitioners refer to body-oriented practitioners when it is necessary and appropriate. As mentioned, NET does not include counseling, and body-oriented NET practitioners are trained to know when to refer to mental health specialists. Body-oriented NET practitioners, being thus trained, are therefore more knowledgeable and more likely to make such referrals, which further ensures the patient’s (and general public’s) safety and welfare.