Bringing Together Body and Mind

By Victoria Kidd

The holidays bring weeks punctuated with family dinners, days consumed by sledding on snow-covered hills, and nights spent wrapping gifts in front of a well-loved fireplace. Often, though, thoughts of joy and nostalgia inherent in early November are often quickly replaced with feelings of stress and tension by December’s end. One could argue that the first two months of the year are spent recovering from the previous year’s last two!

These months are particularly challenging for people with underlying health conditions. These individuals often feel a very physical response to emotional stress, and one method of overcoming the stress of the season is for them to surrender that anxiety to the hands of someone skilled in therapeutic massage—or, more specifically, someone who understands the connection between mind and body. Understanding that connection is of critical importance, according to Mimi Cifala-Turner, a licensed massage therapist, and Tina Johnson, a licensed professional counselor, of Berryville’s Whole Body Therapy. The business provides affordable massage therapy, as well as essential oils classes and wellness counseling services.

Cifala-Turner was introduced to the mind-body connection at a young age by her grandfather, John Cifala. He was the first osteopathic physician to practice at Arlington Hospital. At just ten years of age, Cifala-Turner would receive instruction from him on how to detect adhesions (or knots) in the muscles and on how to manipulate the soft tissue to relieve pain. Of his tutoring, she says, “My grandpop believed in me at such a young age, and he gave me the encouragement and knowledge to find my path.”

She would go on to complete the massage therapy program of the Virginia Learning Institute. As an expert in deep tissue massage, prenatal massage, and geriatric massage, her services are in demand. She has even worked with a few well-known athletes, including several DC area professional football players.

She believes that massage is not simply her line of work; it is her calling. “Honestly I feel this is my gift from God,” she says. “I love to help people feel better. Massage helps in so many ways—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

In addition to enjoying the feeling of helping someone feel better, Cifala-Turner also enjoys the personal aspects of this line of work. “There is also a rapport built between my clients and me,” she explains. Her services start with her seeking to understand the client’s specific needs. There is no “cookie-cutter” method for making someone feel better, meaning she has to take time to get to know each client and understand their particular desired outcomes. The relationships built with clients are valuable to not just her business, but to her personally. “That makes it all so much more worth it,” she said.

The need for customized services that treat the “whole person” has forged a partnership between Cifala-Turner and Johnson that allows them to work cooperatively on several initiatives that will aid clients. In a recent program announcement, the pair indicated that research has demonstrated that our brain, our behavior, and our overall health (in particular, our immune system) are fundamentally linked. Things like meditation, massage, visualization, and support group participation can directly impact our health and feelings of wellbeing. These types of therapies, according to Cifala-Turner and Johnson, have been shown (in numerous studies) to reduce anxiety, decrease pain, help patients better tolerate medical treatments, and ultimately, to improve health. The two will be offering numerous workshops and programs to introduce local residents to additional techniques and methods they can deploy to feel better.

One program is coming up November 21 at 6pm. Cifala-Turner and Johnson will be on hand that evening to provide what they have called a “Mind-Body, Self Care, and Stress Reduction Workshop.” (Seating is limited, and interested individuals are asked to call 540-454-5888 for additional details.)

Cifala-Turner, who launched Whole Body Therapy in 2014, envisions a business that is truly dedicated to making people feel better from the inside out. Initial workshops such as the one occurring later this month, are just the start of her plans to do so. Over time, she will assuredly find even more ways to bring mind-body therapies to Clarke County. In fact, expanding services is already something she has considered among her future plans. “I would love to expand and offer a variety of services, including acupuncture and reflexology,” she says. Until those services are ready for launch, she will continue to focus on (and apply her expertise to) one patient, one specific set of needs at a time.

If you have a health concern necessitating therapeutic massage, or if the holidays simply leave you desperate for relief, visit or call (540) 514-8362. There is little doubt that both your mind and your body will benefit from making the call.