Spotlight: Susan McCrossin
by Colleen M. Quinn
It’s a problem that probably anyone can identify with. You can’t pay attention in the weekly meetings at work. Even if you go to class every day, you just can’t grasp the concept of the course. And managing time is such a bore! It’s simply as if you can’t think clearly, and “just trying harder” doesn’t seem to work.
Whether the problem is a learning difficulty or simply poor concentration, fortunately there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Susan McCrossin, head of the Learning Enhancement Center in Boulder, Colorado, offers a therapeutic practice called Brain Integration Technique to help others end these problems and begin to use their brains to the fullest.
"Crossinology Brain Integration Technique [BIT] is a therapy that I developed about 20 years ago," says Susan, who holds advanced degrees in neuroscience and psychology from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia.
Through acupressure and kinesiology-based muscle testing techniques, BIT makes accessible areas of the brain that weren’t before, and allows a person to think more clearly and efficiently. "What someone is 'bad at' tells me something about what is going on in their brain," Susan says, "By someone's functions, I can tell what parts of their brain are being accessed and what are not."
Susan first developed BIT as a way to help people with learning difficulties. For the students she’s helped, the ability to concentrate and understand class work is thrilling, as well as the newfound confidence that they are smarter than they thought. "IQ has nothing to do with one's ability in school," Susan explains. An inability or difficulty in learning is not necessarily a problem with someone's intelligence; indeed, it doesn't matter how smart someone is if there is a problem accessing parts of the brain that allow them to communicate or learn effectively. It's simply a matter of "turning on" those parts again.
“Self esteem is so important, too,” she says. Even if someone has more access to their brain after integration, a lack of confidence can still inhibit their abilities in daily life as they may still think they “can’t” do something. “We always address self esteem after integration to remove that negative self image,” Susan says, “It’s so important for doing well afterwards.”
Susan points out that in our society tangible achievements like grades are often equated with success. But what happens if, despite getting good grades in whatever way possible, a student is having problems learning and understanding? It certainly doesn’t feel like success. Susan’s message with BIT is that “It doesn’t have to be that way” – struggling in school, concentrating at work, or managing time are all attainable goals. It’s getting to the root of the problem that is important.
Struggling constantly in school is an experience that Susan is very familiar with. Growing up in Australia, Susan’s grades reflected a student who had no problems with class work. For Susan, the reality was much different – despite being exceptionally bright, she often struggled to learn material well and understand what was being taught. Her good grades resulted from cramming for tests and memorizing things short-term.
Years later, Susan was studying Applied Physiology and how it could be used to help children with learning disabilities. Two things resulted from this experience that would later influence what she would do with her career. Susan saw many similarities between the children she interacted with and her own experiences in grade and high school. Frustration, confusion, and hopelessness were all feelings she knew from childhood. It was then that she realized she had a learning disability herself, and in knowing at last where the problem lay, was able to succeed in achieving advanced degrees in neuroscience and psychology from Swinburne University in Melbourne.
In learning about the brain, its functions and applied physiology, Susan conducted extensive research on these things and their relationship to learning abilities. Through her research and successive work with applied physiology, Susan developed Brain Integration Technique in 1988 at her learning center in Melbourne, Australia.
Susan brought BIT to the United States in 1997, when she accompanied a friend to Boulder. “At first I thought, ‘I’m not moving to America!’” she says with a laugh. “But after a while I felt that it was supposed to be. This was a way for me to get the word out to more people.” A 6-month trial run turned into 10-plus years that Susan has been in Boulder, having started the Learning Enhancement Center to practice BIT.
Created as a therapeutic treatment for those with learning difficulties as well as people who have injuries that have affected brain function, BIT works to enhance and in some cases restore the actual “circuitry” of the brain. Describing the operation of the brain as a circuited unit is very descriptive. In essence, the brain operates by blood flow, and also by the exchange of information across the corpus callosum, the nerve-filled structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain.
The two hemispheres of the brain serve two distinct functions, but working together they allow people to think creatively, reason, make decisions, and feel emotions. Usually the right side of the brain is the site of Gestalt functions, which enable a person to recognize “big-picture” scenarios; Gestalt functions are also associated with creativity, and incorporate emotional responses. Conversely the left side is where logic and reasoning take place, and the understanding of symbols and mathematics.
The corpus callosum bridges these two very different parts of the brain, allowing a two-way flow of information to take place via nerves and blood flow. When the way is clear for the movement of information, the brain works most efficiently as the Gestalt and logic parts of the brain gather information and make sense of it. For most people, however, there are varying degrees of blockage that inhibit the exchange of information between the two parts of the brain, which can result in less productive thinking and sometimes learning difficulties.
These blocks are simply areas of the brain to which blood flow is significantly reduced. Reduced blood flow comes usually comes from stress of some kind, either emotional or physical, as research MRI and SPECT brain scans show. This is a result of the body’s “fight or flight” instinct; under physical stress, the body redirects blood flow from the brain to the rest of the body, allowing a person to react quickly to keep out of harm’s way. This instinct is also triggered by emotional stress, which explains why it can be hard to reason or think clearly in an emotional situation.
BIT removes these blockages and increases the blood flow to the brain using acupressure and muscle testing techniques. These two methods operate on the concept that the body’s basic functions, such as walking, breathing, etc, are operated by the subconscious, basic commands that are stored in the brain. But if the subconscious is damaged through emotional or physical trauma, the overall workings of the brain can be limited.
Muscle testing is a technique that allows a BIT practitioner to analyze which muscles are more or less in sync with the subconscious by how much they resist pressure. This will in turn show which areas of the brain are being accessed or not. For example, if a client’s arm resists when the practitioner pushes down on it, it means that the area of the brain that corresponds to the operation of the arm is well-accessed. If resistance is weak, then that brain area is less accessible.
As the practitioner gains information about which muscles have a weak or strong response, he or she then addresses corresponding acupressure points in that area of the body. “The meridian system is the blueprint for how the physical body works,” Susan says Holding onto the pressure point with a light touch, the practitioner is actively improving the blood flow and electromagnetic flow of information to the brain. After the acupressure is completed, the muscle is tested again and the whole process repeated until there is a strong muscle response. This indicates that that part of the brain is working efficiently now.
The entire session of BIT takes anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, depending on the needs of the client. The client lies fully clothed on a padded table while the practitioner performs BIT. Many people find this experience relaxing enough to doze off for a while. Afterwards, the results of BIT can be noticed right away, or it may take a day or two for a clear difference to take shape.
Susan also points out that it’s very important for any other issues in the client’s life to be addressed as well, because BIT will only take care of what is physically happening in the brain. It cannot solve outside issues that may also be affecting a person’s life. For example, an unhappy home life can still have negative repercussions for an integrated child.
Susan believes that everyone can and will benefit from BIT, but those she is most eager to help are students of all ages. The restored confidence that BIT can give to children struggling in school is invaluable. “This [BIT] opens them to the community,” Susan says, “They are changed afterwards.”
In her book on BIT, called Breaking the Learning Barrier: Eradicating ADD, ADHD, and Dyslexia, Susan recounts many success stories of children who’ve benefited from BIT. Better grades and social interaction, improved behavior, and overall increased happiness are regularly seen in children who have been integrated. For Susan, it’s seeing the look of surprise and happiness when a student is able to tackle a subject in school that had previously been a roadblock. “That’s why I’m doing this,” she says, “It’s seeing how happy they are… Doing what you’re passionate about makes you happy, too.” And clearly, Susan is pretty happy.
About Colleen Quinn
Colleen Quinn graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Mass Communication. A writer for most of her life, she has been writing for Whisperingtree.net for over two years. In that time, she’s had the opportunity to meet with many practitioners and masters of the healing arts. Using her years of customer service experience and time as an intern reporter, Colleen provides a unique means of expression for each practitioner she meets. She believes that honest interest and open ears are paramount for learning and understanding the world around us. Through her writing, Colleen offers readers a valuable insight into the work of those who are doing so much to help others.
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