Q&A: Explaining TMS to friends and family
Answer by John Stracks, MD
When I first started my medical training, I thought I could simply tell people about TMS and have them say, “Great. Thanks. I feel so much better now.” It only took a couple of eye-rolling incidents for me to figure out that I needed a more nuanced approach.
I think the most important part of what I do when I talk about TMS with a patient who hasn't heard of the concept before is to normalize the process. I take a lot of time talking about how natural the mind-body process is and how human beings probably evolved to express difficult emotions through our bodies. If I meet more than just a little resistance, I tend to back off and go in a different direction. If people seem interested, then I'll talk about it more.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not everyone is ready to hear the message of TMS. Classically, there are 5 stages in behavior change:
In medical practice, we often think of moving people from one stage to the next, not from stage 1 to stage 5 all at once. Sometimes all you can do initially is introduce the concept. It may take days, weeks, months, or even years before your loved one is ready to pick up a copy of The Mindbody Prescription much less take action. Be patient, even though that patience is extraordinarily difficult.
Finally, keep in mind that, in the end, we can only control ourselves and not anyone else, and I often refer people to the work of Byron Katie (www.thework.com) for information and practical tips about this. Often times, the best way to convince others about the worth of TMS treatment is by being walking, living, breathing examples of its benefits.
So, while there's no one “best” technique for talking with friends and family about TMS, these are the things I would keep in mind
Hope that helps.
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