Seeing Hal changed my life. After 4 years of strong chronic pain I now experience minimal pain and have no restrictions in doing all the activities I love in life. Here is my story.
I initially developed RSI type pain in my wrists from typing and computer use while writing up my Phd. It manifested as strong pain right through both my wrists whenever I typed or used my wrists for normal activities. It eventually got so bad that I could not do any typing at all, or do daily activities like holding a cup of tea, driving, or brushing my teeth without strong pain. I took 3 months off computer work as I thought this would allow it to heal, however the pain in my wrists persisted no matter how much rest I had.
I then begun trying different therapies in a search for a solution, but nothing I tried worked, and no-one seemed to be able to definitively diagnose what was going on at all. I tried pretty much everything. This included acupuncture, massage, reiki, physiotherapy, hand therapists, hand surgeons, and chinese medicine. I had multiple MRI scans, ultrasounds and bone scans but none of them could identify the problem or offer any significant healing.
Despite my desperate efforts, the pain persisted for four long years. This greatly affected my ability to work during this time, and I was restricted with doing normal things in life like driving and riding my bike. I had pretty much given up and accepted that this pain might be my permanent reality.
I came across a book by Dr Sarno (The Mindbody Prescription) which got me interested in the idea that my pain could have a psychological component. However I did not get any significant results from just reading the book. The real turning point came when I started doing one-on-one sessions with Hal. Working with Hal really opened my eyes to the connection between my pain and unexpressed anger from my past. Over the next few sessions I released huge amounts of emotional pain and anger that I didn’t even realise was there. I really liked the balance in the sessions between intellectual discussions (to get an understanding of the mind-body connection) and bodywork (to feel and release emotions). With Hal’s guidance I also dived deeply into the work of Dr Sarno, reading almost all his books to develop a clear understanding of his approach (Dr Sarno’s audiobooks are highly recommended).
It was a difficult process, but hugely rewarding. After only 4 sessions I experienced a massive drop in my pain levels. I felt like I had finally turned the corner with my chronic pain. On top of that I felt like I had released some old emotional burdens- I felt lighter and happier. I saw Hal again for a few more sessions and the pain levels continued to decrease. After about 6 sessions I felt the process was complete. The amazing thing was that after 4 years of frustration, it only took about two months of working with this method before I was healed.
While I still experience some pain now, it is minimal and does not really affect my daily life. I even went rock climbing the other day-which is something I thought I would never do again!! It feels amazing to be so free.
I am deeply indebted to Hal for carrying on the work of Dr Sarno and bringing this remarkable healing to my life. Hal is an extremely knowledgeable and professional practitioner and I would highly recommend him to anyone with chronic pain symptoms. Healing is possible. I am living proof of that. Don’t give up!
I suffered chronic low back pain for 30 years and had reached the point of giving up on any chance of healing, living with average pain levels of 8/10 and relying on pain killers which were becoming less and less effective. Over these years I had seen numerous back specialists and other medical practitioners, who all said my pain was caused by a prolapsed disc. I even had surgery, a number of back injections, physio work, acupuncture, and a host of other treatments which I won’t even mention here. Nothing helped to reduce my pain and the only constant was that my pain kept increasing with time, slowly taking over my life. Up until recently, I couldn’t sit for more than a minute or so without extreme pain. Every facet of my life, both physically and mentally, was now dominated by pain and I felt like I was slowly sinking into an abyss.
That was last December. I then came across a Dr John Sarno and discovered something called tension myositis syndrome, or mind body syndrome (TMS/MBS). Based on his clinical experience, Sarno claimed that repressed emotions in the unconscious such as anger or anxiety was the cause of many chronic pain disorders with low back pain being a common one. Whilst I was initially sceptical, to my amazement, after reading Sarno’s books and trying his techniques, I was able to reduce my pain levels somewhat and even able to stop taking painkillers within a few weeks. I started to become a TMS believer. However my reduction in pain was only partial at best, and it became clear I would need some additional help.
Seeing Hal was a game changer. Being only one of a handful of psychotherapists in Australia aware of TMS/MBS, I decided to give it a go. Hal was able to help guide me back to a normal life again. He has been instrumental in teaching me how to get in touch with repressed emotions which is the key to eliminating TMS and the chronic pain it causes. In a matter of a few months, my life was turned around. My 30 years of back pain is now a non-issue – I am exercising regularly, riding my bike for the first time in 15 years, and even able to enjoy the cinema or theatre while sitting for hours and not feel any pain.
But it was not easy. We all experience negative emotions for one reason or another but it is how we deal with them that decides how they affect us. Learning to embrace your negative emotions and really feel and accept them is very challenging and confronting as we are programmed to repress and avoid them, albeit to our detriment. Hal’s deep insight and understanding of TMS and his somatic approach to getting in touch with emotions repressed in the unconscious has been very effective. Hal has taught me the skills which I am confident will allow me to deal with any similar pain in the future. The icing on the cake is that I now also have some valuable skills for effectively dealing with the stresses life often throws at you.
I am indebted to Hal for his valuable guidance and help and highly recommend him for anyone who needs help with chronic pain symptoms.
Since I’ve started seeing Hal, I’ve quit drinking and smoking, gone off my antidepressants, stopped feeling shy, dramatically improved my relationships with my partner and with my mother, and largely gotten over my RSI issues.
Its been a transformational few months. I have to give credit to myself and to a course that I’m doing at the moment as well, but seeing Hal has really helped me get in touch with my emotions and given me the capacity to deal with life, rather than avoiding it. Ever since the first session, I’ve been blown away with how easily I can get in touch with and move through my deepest feelings through body work/somatic psychotherapy.
When I don’t have to explain or analyse what I’m feeling, and can just let myself sit in those emotions, I find it much more useful than traditional psychotherapeutic work.