Body, Mind & Spirit: Martha Childers


Martha Childers, LPC, EdS

Body, Mind & Spirit is a series of interviews introducing Kansas City wellness professionals whose service offerings address the whole person. We kick off our series today with Martha Childers, LPC, EdS who is a licensed professional counselor in independent practice on the Country Club Plaza.

Please tell us a little about yourself, what you do and your journey into this type of work:

At midlife I read an article saying that one way to ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is to do something never done before at middle age. After two years of thought and self-exploration, I remembered that my original youthful intention was to become a psychologist. However, the first day of class in Psychology 101, the teacher said that we need to be honest with ourselves; that we study psychology to control people. I was fresh off the farm, 17 years old, and believed her. I thought, “I don’t want to control people!” So my life took another path. Now I am fulfilling the dream of my youth by helping people fulfill their own needs and desires.

How does the body-mind-spirit connection inform your work?

For several years during my 20’s, I lived in Japan and practiced a variety of Zen meditations including flower arrangement, calligraphy, koto, and tea ceremony. Since that time, mindfulness has been an integral part of my personal and professional life. My clients routinely learn a variety of mindfulness practices to help them with issues such as anxiety, decision-making, and PTSD.

I believe that the mind, body, spirit are words we use to provide a means to communicate and make sense of the world. In reality, we are one creature in one creation moving and being as one. As a psychotherapist, I have a professional responsibility to utilize the techniques defined within this field while keeping in mind the wholeness of the being.

What makes your business/services unique?

A dear friend helped me design my office. It is a reflection of my life and my personality while providing a peaceful, relaxing place for my clients to talk freely and openly. The location is on the Plaza, which is central to the area. Parking is convenient, and for individuals who have difficulty getting around, handicap parking is just outside the office. Having lived and traveled in Europe, Asia, and Africa for 12 years, my experience facilitates relationships with multicultural couples and individuals. I know what it’s like to be a minority and to be a foreigner in a strange land.

What can people expect to experience when they first come to see you or visit your place of work?

My clients can expect a nurturing, beautiful, safe place.

What does your personal wellness routine look like?

Daily meditation provides a way for my mind to clear. Daily exercise gets my blood flowing. Nutritious food feeds my body. Careful cleaning of my teeth, hair, and body refresh me. Regular visits to the chiropractor and an energy worker help alignment and eliminate blockages. Routine visits to my primary care physician and dentist monitor my health. Mini-mindfulness practices throughout the day reduce anxiety and keep me in the moment. Sleep and rest revitalize me.

ChildersLogoHorzRGBChilders Counseling Service 816-892-0803

The Mind Body Connection

The mind and body are inextricably connected. Modern science is showing us how our thoughts, feelings, and behavior impact the way our bodies feel and function and vice versa.

We now know how chronic stress impacts the brain and immune system. The brain sends signals to the immune system by releasing neurotransmitters which carry communications to the immune cells. A stressor can trigger the release of various neurotransmitters that tell the immune system what to do. Conversely, immune system cells release their own chemicals that have an effect on the brain, which in turn tells other cells and systems in the body what to do. The stress hormone cortisol suppresses immune cell ability to replace DNA that is lost during cell division, making individuals under chronic stress  more susceptible to illness. In addition, research has shown that the effects of stress can be conditioned such that even after the stressor is removed, immune suppression can continue. In short, our brains impact our immune systems and vice versa.

There is growing evidence of the way in which the mind and body interact to impact health. We have found that certain chronic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, asthma and fibromyalgia, can worsen in the presence of depression and anxiety. Helplessness and hopelessness are correlated with decreased rates of survival in individuals with life threatening illness. There is research showing how mindfulness meditation can lower blood pressure and decrease nausea and chronic pain. Biofeedback has been associated with decreased severity and frequency of migraine headaches in children. We also know that counseling, stress management education, relaxation training, attending worship services, and having a strong sense of spirituality are correlated with increased lifespan as well as decreased symptom severity or reoccurrence in individuals with serious illnesses such as cancer, HIV, and cardiovascular disease.

It makes sense then, that we address the whole person – body, mind and spirit – in the services we provide to people suffering from stress and/or illness. Consumers are also indicating a growing interest in these integrated services. Fortunately, more and more of us are recognizing the mind-body connection and its importance in health and wellbeing.


Tracy Ochester, PsyD, RYT