Joseph C. Downer, MSAC LA.c

Joe Downer’s interest with Acupuncture, Asian history and philosophy started when he was in middle school. Joe was fascinated with martial arts. One day at a martial arts store in Norwalk, CT (Superior Martial Arts) he was seriously considering the purchase of a Ninja Sword.

In the store at the time happened to be the current headmaster/Soke of the Isshinryu Karate (IWKA) system and his head U.S. representative for the United States. Between the store owner and two martial arts masters Joe was persuaded to use his birthday money for tuition in Isshinryu Karate. At the karate school, Joe learned about acupuncture points and how they could be used to heal or to harm. This academic interest in the Eastern approach to healing eventually was to become very personal.

While studying Chinese Language, History, Literature, and Philosophy at Nanjing University (Nanda) in Nanjing China during his last year of studies at Sacred Heart University, Joe became very sick, and did not have immediate access to western medicine. He was successfully treated with Acupuncture and Herbs. Since then Joe has been a firm believer in the effectiveness of Chinese Medicine.

Joe graduated from Sacred Heart University where he earned a B.A. in Political Science, and History, in addition to a Certificate from Naming University in Chinese Studies. Joe entered corporate America but soon heard a different calling, that of the Eastern medicine of which he had been a beneficiary. Joe soon chose to attend Tri-State College of Acupuncture full time on the evenings and weekends while working full time at Pitney Bowes.

While at Tri-State, the oldest School of Acupuncture on the American Eastern Seaboard, Joe studied under the early pioneers of American Acupuncture. The focus of his studies was on three systems of Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Japanese Acupuncture, and Acupuncture Physical Medicine. Joe also interned with Lincoln Recovery Center where he became certified in NADA for people struggling with addiction. Additionally Joe interned with a practitioner of Japanese Acupuncture and did a year long student internship at Tri-State College of Acupuncture. Joe graduated from Tri-State with a Clinical Master Degree in Acupuncture.

As Joe learned more about the uniqueness of each person’s responses to healing therapies, his understanding of the individualized Eastern approach to healing expanded. He has added this understanding to Stratford Wellness Center, where he can offer his patients the most effective therapy from among a choice of effective oriental massage and manipulative techniques, as well as the 2,000 year old practice of Chinese Herbology and Japanese Kampo.


Elizabeth LaBarca, Licensed Massage Therapist

Elizabeth LaBarca, Licensed Massage Therapist

Since a very young age, Elizabeth used massage to help heal those around her. The simple act of “healing touch” was an interest/hobby for her until 2005, when she enrolled into the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy in Westport, CT. She has furthered her education with many different courses since graduating in 2007; such as Shiatsu, Usui Reiki and Thai modalities. These techniques add a well-rounded addition to her already impressive modes of bodywork, which include Western Swedish massage, Deep Tissue massage therapy, Trigger Point Therapy, Acupressure, Sports Massage/Stretching and Energy Work.

Elizabeth has worked alongside chiropractors for many years, learning a great deal from working with different injuries and disorders. She has done a great deal of work with rehabilitation, and her specialized sports stretching program has increased many athletes’ abilities as well as assisted people with chronic lower back issues.

Elizabeth is also and Intuitive Reader and does Medium Readings (“Massage Channeling”) as well as Tarot. “Massage Channeling” is a new ‘extra’ that Elizabeth is proud to add to her services. She has learned a great deal from working as a trained seer (a person who foresees or foretells events) and has had some work as a medium (contacting and being able to communicate with spirits) as well. During the trance-like relaxation of a massage, our past loved ones can sometimes show themselves. During this stage, it is also easier for messages to be passed through to either side; for some to have questions answered; or to just have some closure with a sad or grievous passing. Please keep in mind that the person you may want to speak with may not always be the one to come through, but other visitors may, in order to contact you to give you a message. These messages are for you to understand only, Elizabeth will not be able to interpret what is being said; she is merely there to open the lines of communication.

Acupuncture Specialties

sa-5871Traditional Chinese Medicine: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses an analytical diagnostic methodology and is very well suited to the practice of internal medicine. TCM practitioners routinely combine acupuncture with Chinese Herbs, as well as other modalities like Tui Na (Chinese Massage), and diet as pharmacy.

Acupuncture Physical Medicine: This is especially well suited to treating the complex and chronic disorders that plague modern medicine; from chronic pain, chronic fatigue, multiple allergies, and stress disorders, to the symptomatic relief of internal medical complaints in the various organ systems of the body.

Traditional Japanese Acupuncture: Classical Tui Na is one of the most powerful modalities in Chinese medicine, known for consistently producing clinical results. Yet in modern China and in the West, this method of direct and effective hands-on diagnosis and treatment has largely been lost, due to an emphasis on the seemingly “more medical” (minimum touch) modalities of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. In fact, for many medical conditions that plague people today, Tui Na is the superior choice for effective treatment.

Zheng Gu Mobilization Techniques are an important part of Classical Tui Na largely forgotten by modern practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. Yet these techniques are arguably the most immediately effective methods for restoring normal alignment of the body’s tissues.

Zheng Gu Tui Na is often incorrectly translated as “bone setting.” In fact, Zheng Gu Tui Na practitioners are not “merely bone doctors” – they are experts in a sophisticated art of structural realignment, which aligns all of the tissues in the body.

Shiatsu is a manipulative therapy developed in Japan and incorporating techniques of anma (Japanese traditional massage), acupressure, stretching, and Western massage. Shiatsu involves applying pressure to special points or areas on the body in order to maintain physical and mental well-being, treat disease, or alleviate discomfort. Shiatsu has a strong reputation for reducing stress and relieving nausea and vomiting.

Shiatsu is also believed to improve circulation and boost the immune system. Some people use it to treat diarrhea, indigestion, constipation, and other disorders of the gastrointestinal tract; menstrual and menopausal problems; chronic pain; migraine; arthritis; toothache; anxiety; and depression. Shiatsu can be used to relieve muscular pain or tension, especially neck and back pain. It also appears to have sedative effects and may alleviate insomnia. In a broader sense, shiatsu is believed to enhance physical vitality and emotional well-being.

Usui Reiki

Reiki is a form of therapy that uses simple hands-on, no-touch, and visualization techniques, with the goal of improving the flow of life energy in a person. Reiki (pronounced ray-key) means “universal life energy” in Japanese, and Reiki practitioners are trained to detect and alleviate problems of energy flow on the physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Reiki touch therapy is used in much the same way to achieve similar effects that traditional massage therapy is used—to relieve stress and pain, and to improve the symptoms of various health conditions. Reiki is a gentle and safe technique, and has been used successfully in some hospitals. It has been found to be very calming and reassuring for those suffering from severe or fatal conditions.

Thai Massage (for the table)
Thai massage, also known as Nuad bo-Rarn in its traditional medical form, is a type of Asian bodywork therapy that is based on the treatment of the human body, mind, and spirit. The massage therapy includes treating the electromagnetic or energetic field that surrounds, infuses and brings the body to life through pressure and/or manipulative massage. The benefits of Thai massage are numerous with the most predominant being the maintenance of good health and its ability to treat a wide spectrum of physical concerns. Traditional Thai massage is also well known for its ability to clear the energy pathways.

Western Swedish Massage

The term “Swedish Massage” refers to a variety of techniques specifically designed to relax muscles by applying pressure to them against deeper muscles and bones, and rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. It involves the use of kneading, stroking, friction, tapping, and vibration and may provide relief from stiffness, numbness, pain, constipation, and other health problems.

The main purpose of Swedish massage is to increase the oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles. Other possible benefits include stimulation of circulation, an increase in muscle tone, and a balance of the musculo-skeletal systems. Swedish massage shortens recovery time from muscular strain by flushing the tissues of lactic acid, uric acid, and other metabolic wastes. It increases circulation without increasing heart load.

Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

Deep tissue massage focuses on the deep layers of muscle tissues in an effort to release chronic patterns of tension. The massage uses many of the same strokes as classic message therapy, with the main difference lying in the fact that a deep tissue massage involves slower movements and the application of greater pressure. The therapist works on one particular part of the body at a time, applying friction across the grain of the muscles rather than with the grain.

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy is also known as Myotherapy or Neuromuscular Therapy and applies concentrated finger pressure to “trigger points” (painful irritated areas in muscles) to break cycles of spasm and pain. It appears that most muscular pains have a trigger point that causes the muscle to go into spasms. Trigger Point Therapy involves placing pressure on that trigger point so that the muscle can relax and the pain can be lessened. Pressure is generally applied with fingers, knuckles, and elbows. This form of therapy is often followed by stretching the muscles.

Acupressure is a form of touch therapy that utilizes the principles of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. In acupressure, the same points on the body are used as in acupuncture, but are stimulated with finger pressure instead of with the insertion of needles. Acupressure is used to relieve a variety of symptoms and pain. Acupressure massage performed by a therapist can be very effective both as prevention and as a treatment for many health conditions, including headaches, general aches and pains, colds and flu, arthritis, allergies, asthma, nervous tension, menstrual cramps, sinus problems, sprains, tennis elbow, and toothaches, among others.