Hi, I’m Hal. I recovered from 4 years of chronic pain. I made this program to help others do the same.
After spending tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of appointments with doctors, specialists, physios, alternative therapists, I realised that the key to treating chronic pain isn’t what most people think it is.
Unfortunately that wasn’t until I had had to stop working, and playing music, and living independently, because I just couldn’t do those things anymore. If you want to read some more about my journey down the rabbit hole of pain, (and more importantly, back out again) I’ve written my story here.
Whether your pain is in your back, neck, head, belly, limbs, feet, or is one the very large number of unique chronic pain conditions (often diagnosed as CRPS, fibromyalgia, RSI, some forms of arthritis, and many others), if your doctor can’t find a good reason for your pain, its likely that the key for your recovery is the same as it was for mine.
However it started originally, whether an injury, or a ‘medically unexplained symptom’, the key to recovery lies in the mysteries of the brain and the largely unconscious neuropsychological processes which can perpetuate pain.
After trying everything, researching, finding dead ends, researching some more, trying even more crazy things, failing, despairing, running out of money, and then by an extraordinary series of events stumbling across the key to getting better… I made it back to full health and then set about studying the keys to using what I call a “mind-body” approach to not just managing, but fully recovering from chronic pain. You can find out more about it below.
Did I recover fully I hear you ask? I’m happy to say that yes, I did!
Ten years on, I’m a different person to the guy who couldn’t type for more than ten minutes or walk 50 metres without needing to rest. I’m geeking out at the keyboard, surfing, running, drumming, cooking, lifting weights and generally doing whatever I want to with my previously dysfunctional body.
After gaining my qualifications in psychology and somatic psychotherapy, I practiced for six years in Melbourne and via Skype, blending the most effective techniques I’ve found to help other people to recover. I created the “Freedom From Chronic Pain” program to make this treatment accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Welcome, and I hope you find resources and inspiration here that are of service to you.
What it works for
- Chronic back and/or neck pain
- Chronic musculoskeletal pain in single or multiple sites
- RSI / OOS
- IBS (irritable bowel / bladder syndrome)
- Fibromyalgia syndrome
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Many exzema / skin conditions
- Some arthritic conditions
- Some endometriosis presentations
- Other medically unexplained chronic pain
- Other medically unexplained chronic fatigue
What its not for
- Pain from cancer
- Most rheumatoid arthritis
- Clearly diagnosed nerve injury
- Some arthritic conditions
Activate your recovery with the new science of chronic pain treatment
New gold standard evidence suggests that mind-body treatment is more effective than CBT, or conventional treatments for chronic pain.
Conventional treatments for chronic pain and fatigue syndromes are largely failing to deliver sustained relief, and can sometimes be harmful.
Whilst making my own recovery, I studied psychology and neuroscience at the ANU in Canberra. Although I was invited in to the honours program it became apparent to me that the real keys to effectively treating (not just “managing”) pain lay as Dr John Sarno MD suggested in the unconscious psycho-neuro-emotional processes which govern autonomic nervous system functioning. The processes with the power to turn on, or off, the neural pathways which create our felt experience of moment to moment sensation and pain in any part of the body.
I then decided to study somatic psychotherapy to enhance my ability to work with these unconscious processes. After my own recovery, in my professional role as a somatic psychotherapist I have had the honour of helping hundreds more people to transform their pain.
Please watch this video of Kate for example, she was able to cure her IBS completely with the mind-body approach in only a few weeks… she offered to make this unsolicited testimonial video about her recovery… please press play to listen to her story.
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.
Whether you’ve had pain for three months, three years or three decades, the mindbody principles can help you recover
Medicine has made some progress in the last ten years and generally recognises the role of the brain in chronic pain.
But treatments too often focus on masking or managing the symptoms and not the real cause of the pain.
Effective and full recovery from chronic pain and fatigue requires:
1. Confidence that the diagnosis is appropriate for mindbody treatment
2. Intervention in the processes of thinking and feeling that underlie the symptoms
3. Calming the nervous system
4. Retraining the brain, mind and body to become free of, or substantially reduce the pain
A true Mind-Body intervention shares some aspects of, but is quite different from CBT. The Mind-Body approach sets the realistic (based on experience and the latest science) goal of curing rather than managing pain and involves work on the feeling/emotional component of pain syndromes, as well as thoughts and perceptions around the pain.
Too many people are stuck in pain treatments which are partially or poorly managing the symptoms. The intention of this program is to make a genuine healing approach to the pain broadly accessible.
The new science of pain treatment is here.
Read it for yourself.
The scholarly reader, practitioner or interested layperson is referred to the following peer reviewed journal articles as a starting point:
Lumley, M.A. & Schubiner, H., et al (2017). Emotional awareness and expression therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and education for fibromyalgia: a cluster randomized controlled trial. Pain. Dec 2017, 158(12):2354-2363.
Burger AJ, Lumley MA, Carty JN, et al. The Effects of a Novel Psychological Attribution and Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: A Preliminary, Uncontrolled Trial. Journal of psychosomatic research. 2016;81:1-8.
Michael C. Hsu, Howard Schubiner, Mark A. Lumley, John S. Stracks, Daniel J. Clauw and David A. Williams. 2010. “Sustained Pain Reduction Through Affective Self-awareness in Fibromyalgia: A Randomized Controlled Trial”. Journal of General Internal Medicine; Oct 2010, Vol. 25 Issue 10, p1064-1070.
Hsu, Michael C., Schubiner, Howard. 2010. “Recovery from Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain with Psychodynamic Consultation and Brief Intervention: A Report of Three Illustrative Cases”. Pain Medicine; Jun 2010, Vol. 11 Issue 6, p977-980.
Gordon, Alan. 2010. “Miracles of mindbody medicine”. Healthcare Counselling & Psychotherapy Journal; Jan2010, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p13-18.
A comprehensive mindbody treatment program
The expertise of a world leading MD in holistic pain medicine…
I’m proud to offer this program in collaboration with Dr Howard Schubiner, MD, FACP Medical director of the Mind Body Medicine Program at Providence Hospital, Michigan USA. He is a world leader in the diagnosis and treatment of what Dr Sarno called TMS – Tension Myositis Syndrome.
Howard has generously offered all of the materials from his own online program. So when you sign up for the Freedom From Chronic Pain Program, you get the complete package of Dr Schubiner’s work as well as my own specialist techniques in unlocking the keys to healing your symptoms.
…in collaboration with an Australian somatic psychotherapist specialising in mind-body healing for chronic pain and fatigue syndromes
After healing my own chronic pain and fatigue syndrome, I studied psychology and somatic psychotherapy and for the last six years have specialised in guiding people to heal their own symptoms, which may have been diagnosed as one or more of the conditions listed above.
I’ve presented at some of Australia’s largest holistic medicine conferences, but most importantly have helped hundreds of people to heal their symptoms in my private practice and via Skype.