1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
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Welcome to the TMS Recovery Program Subforum!

Discussion in 'Alan Gordon TMS Recovery Program' started by Forest, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome to the Alan Gordon Recovery Program Subforum! This subforum is designed to allow people an area to discuss and receive feedback on the Alan Gordon Recovery Program.

    TMS practitioner, Alan Gordon, LCSW, has developed and contributed a free TMS recovery program to the TMS Wiki. Alan Gordon describes the goal of the program to generally provide you with a deeper understanding of why you have your pain, how it’s being perpetuated, and what steps you can take to eliminate or significantly reduce it. In addition to telling you what to do, it will show you what to do, via clips of recordings of sessions with actual TMSers.

    Alan has been working on the program for about a year, and it ties together many of the themes from his webinars and presents important skills that we can use in our healing. I feel honored that he would donate the program to the nonprofit and consider it a terrific example of how we can pull together to help each other out.

    We have a tremendously smart and supportive community. Whenever I read a book, I find it fascinating to read what other people think of it. For example, does it accord with your experience? What twists have you made on the program that have helped you apply it? What has helped the most? This forum is here to help you better understand some of the ideas presented in the program, as well as provide people with a place to discuss ideas presented throughout it. If you have thoughts, questions, or comments on the sections you read we would love to hear about them.
    laugiss, Overcomer and Sienna like this.
  2. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the TMS Recovery Program

    How can I listen to the audio recordings?
    You can listen to the recordings right in your browser. The recordings use a technology called HTML5 (with Flash fallback), so it is easy to listen to them on your smartphone or tablet.

    If you have any technical difficulties, you can get help in our TMS Recovery Program Thread.

    How can I find the program quickly?
    Just type “Gordon tmswiki program” into Google.
  3. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    Reviewing this Recovery Program that Alan has created brought tears to my eyes. He has created so many new tools to help each of us have a better understanding of ourselves. It is as if each step helped me to think a little more deeply about my own thoughts and how I can take these steps to make my life better.
    Thank you Alan
    jennaTMS516 and Sienna like this.
  4. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Thank you for posting this, Forest! It was just what I needed to see tonight.
    For the past 2 months I've had a LOT of success with the program, especially with horrible headaches. Coincidentally, my plantar fasciitis had begun to improve as I started the program. (It had been bad enough last Fall that I was in a wheelchair.) I've been walking just fine for several months, but for the past week, the pain level has been steadily increasing. I'm consciously trying to avoid the fear-feedback loop, and I'm forcing myself to walk each evening after work. But I really needed to hear--again--that the goal should not be lessening the pain but "lessening the degree to which I care."

    I've also been reading Tara Branch's book Radical Acceptance, and have really enjoyed it. Included in the book are a lot of guided meditations that she uses. I feel that it gives me a number of tools to try.
    danderson, jennaTMS516 and Forest like this.
  5. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you Forest and Alan.
    Something about this really chimes with me. I watched the first video and love the way Alan describes the pain as a kinaesthetic hallucination. Wow, I can wrap my mind around that.

    I like very much the depth and pragmatism of Alan's approach.
    Sienna likes this.
  6. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, I really love it as well. When it comes to healing TMS, some people focus on the present and some people focus on the past. Obviously, there has to be a mix, but people who focus on the present tend to focus on how their tension plays out in the present. For example, how does their goodism and perfectionism lead to tension, rage, and pain? How do low self esteem, anxiety, and catastrophizing lead to the same things? Present-based approaches (am I coining a term? I've been meaning to do a video about this for many months) emphasize how emotions, thoughts, and mental habits fuel our TMS.

    In contrast, people who take a more past-based approach emphasize childhood and the deep past. Some do "psycho-archaeology," convinced that there is a deeply repressed emotion that they need to dig up. Others feel that they need to re-experience past hurts to get them out of their system and cry their eyes out again and again as they journal, hoping that by re-experiencing and thereby discharging past pain they can heal themselves. While journaling can be very helpful, I've seen many people who I believe have reached points of diminishing returns with psycho-archaeology and re-experiencing.

    As well as anyone else I've ever seen, I think that in this program Alan does a terrific job of integrating the past-based and the present-based approaches. Personally, I believe that while our TMS has roots deep in the past that it mostly plays out in the present. It is in the present that we repress our emotions, stuffing them into the shadows of our mind. It is in the present that our perfectionism and goodism put intense pressure on us. It is in the present that we terrorize ourselves, fueling our anxiety. Of course, all of these traits can usually be traced back to our childhood, and awareness of this connection can often be very empowering as we heal.

    I think that Alan does a tremendous job of articulating this connection. He writes: (emphasis mine)
    I think it's a brilliant synthesis of the past-based approach and the present based approach. Understanding the past helps us live better in the present. But, still, what matters is how we think and feel in the present. And we can clean those things up (in fact this Recovery Program shows you how).

    ... At least that is what I take from it. And I can't speak for anyone else, but I think it is an important idea because I've seen many people who keep working so very hard at the psycho-archaeology and re-experiencing but seem to have hit a brick wall. So I'd say the following to anyone who feels like they have hit a brick wall with deep journaling: Journaling is a tremendously valuable activity, but it has limits. I think a good maxim in life is, "if one thing doesn't work, try another." After all, to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results is the definition of insanity. So look inside yourself and ask yourself, "in the present, where do I generate internal pressure and tension?" and "in the present, where do I generate anxiety and fear?" Where is your energy going? One helpful exercise for this is to draw a stick figure in the middle of a piece of paper, then, around it, put all of the places that your energy goes. You'll be amazed! You deserve better than that, so find a way to make it better.

    And if you aren't sure where to start, or even if you are, take your time and gently work your way through Alan's program. He's a heck of a guide.
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forest, you are one heck of a mentor. I am punch drunk from hitting that particular wall, and certainly a touch insane from the tail-chasing. I've mentioned before the dreadful impasse and have quite exhausted myself with the futility and hopelessness of it all. And then you and Alan pitch up and say, 'hey, there's another way'.

    The program is a brilliant synthesis and I completely agree that understanding the past enables sweeter living in the present. There's a gem of wisdom here too. I've always been afraid of becoming bitter and the psycho-archaeology had firmly put me on that path, and this was ramping self-generated pressure. Do you know the saying "you either get bitter or you get better", well I've used that as a cudgel. All is magnified as a carer because the opportunities for self-reproach seem limitless.

    To this end, I say please make the video on present-based approaches, (you may have coined the term; how very cool), because this is exactly the signpost I need. I'm actually afraid of the stickman exercise, because I sense it'll be a representation of meltdown.

    I really need to focus on this, on how as you say, tension is playing out in the present. I think the watchword for me is gentle. Too easily it becomes another opportunity to chide myself. So I am taking your excellent advice and shall mindfully and kindly work through the program.

    Thanks for your caring response. It matters.
    laugiss likes this.
  8. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    This is a great point, Forest.

    There've been a lot of studies about the concept of different paths to the same outcome.

    My favorite experiment on this topic was conducted with children and monkeys. They gave each group a ten foot pole, and asked them to get a banana down from a tree branch ten feet off the ground.

    The children whacked the banana with the pole, it fell to the ground and they picked it up. The monkeys on the other hand, placed the pole on the ground, climbed it, grabbed the banana, and climbed back down before the pole fell over.

    The same result reached by different means. Psychologists call this concept equifinality.

    Sometimes people are able to reach a place of psychological health by focusing on the past, sometimes they reach the same endpoint focusing on the present. I suspect that neurologically the same process is taking place, it's just a matter which process resonates more with the individual.
    veronica73 and Forest like this.
  9. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, you're not alone! I think that for many people, the pure "past based" approach runs out of steam and they have to start looking at how they generate inner stress in the present. Like I said, if one thing doesn't work, try another!

    Glad to hear that you're going to work through it. It sounds like you are saying that, like so many other TMSers, there is a part of you that beats yourself up. Recognizing things like this is one of the steps that Alan describes in the program, so you are already off to a good start. Better yet, almost the entire second part (over half of the program) is dedicated to helping people overcome destructive habits like beating oneself up (I do it, too!) and learning to develop a truly nurturing self-regard. By the end, it's almost like we can reparent ourselves.

    In another post, I described how the most important part of reading anything about TMS is thinking about how it applies to yourself. Exercises can help with this. Perhaps as you go through Part II of the program, you can, for each sub-part, think about how it applies to compassionately learning to defend yourself from the part of yourself that wants to chide yourself. The first step (section 3.1) will be to develop compassion for yourself. After all, to truly protect yourself, you need to really feel, deep in your heart, that you are worth defending. Learning to feel this deeply and sustain it is not a trivial task. As for myself, I deliberately put effort into it and expect to keep doing so for a while. Once it is engrained, it provides a very strong foundation for the later steps.

    The second step, "Recognize Destructive Behaviors," is something that it sounds like you've already made some progress on. Of course, with the foundation of self-compassion and guidance from the program, perhaps you can work on developing a deep felt sense that the self criticism is wrong and not your friend. Which is true! I haven't exchanged that many posts with you, but I can already tell that you are a smart, caring and sensitive person. Really, you deserve to be defended. In the long term, the only one who can defend you, though, is you, and the program will give you important skills to protect yourself.

    I've talked about the first two steps of Part II, but the entirety of Part II is about learning to replace beating yourself up and repressing your feelings with self-care, so there are many steps to go! :) It will take a while, but nothing truly valuable comes easily.
    laugiss and plum like this.
  10. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    One question I've been getting is how long the program should take. Clearly it only takes 2-3 of hours to read the text and listen to the audio. But it seems to me that actually implementing the program should take much longer. It seems that this is the type of program where you get out of it exactly what you put into it. Each individual step could take anywhere from 2-3 hours to 2-3 years to "complete." For example, the more self-compassion you can generate, the more anger you will be able to generate toward your inner bully. So when are you done?

    I don't know when you will see this, Derek, but when you do, would you be willing to share your thoughts on this?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2015
  11. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    That's a great question, Forest.

    It's fine to go through the program in one shot, but you should think of that the same way actors think about first reading a script they'll eventually have to learn.

    Understanding the basic layout can be helpful, but to really make psychological changes on a meaningful level, you need to internalize and practice these concepts.

    Take the "Provide Comfort" section. It isn't just about knowing that your "inner child" sometimes feels unsafe, but learning to recognize when he's feeling unsafe, and practicing soothing him.

    Like most things, you'll get out of the program what you put into it. There's a lot of information there, and therefore a lot of things to practice. I'd advise taking your time with this, breaking it up into parts, and not putting too much pressure on yourself to do too much at once.

    Alan and I originally discussed the possibility of making this a 4 week program, breaking up the activities and exercises into different days, essentially creating a predetermined structure. Ultimately we concluded that because self-empowerment is such a key component of recovery, it would be best to allow people to learn these tools, and empower themselves by creating their own structure.
    danielle, BruceMC, yb44 and 1 other person like this.
  12. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I happened to read this in the section of Alan Gordon's Recovery Program entitled "The Science Behind Your Inner Child":

    "Neuroscientists determined that the left side of the brain is more rational, objective, and present-minded, while the right side is more emotional, impulsive, and lives in the past. Time doesn’t exist in this side of the brain. In your right hemisphere, there’s no difference between 30 years ago and 10 seconds ago."

    It made me wonder whether TMS symptoms occur more often on the left-hand side of the patient's body? This would stand to reason if the source of the psychological tension originates with the "inner child" rebelling against the "inner parent". But is this true statistically with TMS patients? I know my sciatica and lower lumbar pain are centered on my left side, but that could be because that's the side where I broke my heal years ago. However, I can remember having TMS-like symptoms in my left leg during the 1980s, long before I broke my heal.
    laugiss, tammyg and Leslie like this.
  13. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    I have had some TMS symptoms involving the right side of my body but they have been far fewer in number and far less in severity than those on the left. I read an interesting article about the "symbolism" of the various pain locations (written by an eastern tradition doctor of course) and the research for that article concluded that the side the mind chooses for the pain symptoms is determined by the reason the mindbody needs to generate them to begin with. Right body pain stems from work, career, or financial pursuits. Left body pain stems from family and personal relationship difficulties. That seems to be right in line with the brain hemispheres. Seems logical that the left brain would have a larger involvement in financial pursuits, even if it's a creative type job, when it comes right down to it any type of work is a financial pursuit. Also seems logical to me that our inner child would have a far more active role in our personal relationships since it's lifelong conditioning.
    laugiss and BruceMC like this.
  14. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sciatica is on the left, migraines on the right. I have all bases covered. ;)
  15. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    This seems to concur with my experience: My sciatica and lower-lumbar pain began to develop on the left side shortly after the death of my mother in January 2001. Definitely mother-child abandonment issues since I'd been caring for her for five years previously while she was suffering from dementia. Likewise, my TMS relapse occurred in 2008 right after I broke up with a GF. In both cases, I had been working intensely previous to the death of my mom and the romantic reversal too. Way stressed out, then, bango.

    Makes sense, Leslie.
    laugiss and Sheila like this.
  16. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    I just finished Alan's program. I had been forcing myself to go slowly, since the perfectionist in me wanted to move through the entire thing in an evening.
    How sad that we neglect the inner child to the degree we do. I would never talk to a friend the way that I talk to myself. Time for that to change. I'm making a conscious commitment to recognize the good in myself that I so easily see in others.
    laugiss and Leslie like this.
  17. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you Alan and others, for putting this together. It crams so much into a small space, and the integration of the recorded sessions makes it really special, as well as the breakout explanations and worksheets.

    I think that even regardless of pain reduction, refining self-care and self-attunement are really satisfying to my soul down deep. How many decades do we go along, taking care of everything but ourselves? Or "taking care of ourselves" in learned, non-attuned ways? How much time do I spend trying to "soothe" myself or try to stay "connected" to others without tapping into a deeper wisdom?

    Much appreciated!!
    Ellen and Forest like this.
  18. David B

    David B Well known member

    Thanks to all who put this together. A special thanks to Alan and the audio participants. They struck key cords with me and I suspect I will use them to remind myself of the negative patterns that were programmed into me long ago.
  19. AranK

    AranK New Member

    This program looks promising. I am definitely interested but not sure how to pace the program. Are there instructions that I missed regarding how much of the program to do on a daily/weekly basis? Thanks!
  20. David B

    David B Well known member

    AranK, I don't know if this program recommends an amount of time per day. Experienced members of this forum and Dr Schubiner recommend to spend some time every day on your recovery and I agree. But don't beat yourself up if you miss a day or don't do the same amount every day. Just stay committed and get back at it the next day.

    For what it's worth I spend 30 minutes a day reading one of the books on the subject and 30-60 minutes a day on writing exercises. I also spend a little time on reviewing affirmations and listening to one or two of the guided meditations from this site or from dr schubiners cd

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