Psychophysiologic Disorders Association

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The Psychophysiologic Disorders Association, or PPDA, is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate medical and mental health practitioners about PPD and train these practitioners to treat individuals with chronic pain and other medically unexplained symptoms. The group originally was named the TMS Educational Working group and changed their name to the PPDA in 2010.

As the TMS Educational Working Group

On March 28, 2009 a TMS conference was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan which brought together the leading TMS practitioners for a series of lectures which examined the physiology and validity of TMS theory. At the closing of this conference a group of medical doctors, mental health practitioners, and patient activists organized a brief brainstorming session on the best ways to educate the public, conduct research, and increase clinical diagnosis of TMS.

What was found during this brainstorming session was that there was a large amount of enthusiasm about TMS activism. There were a lot of ideas to create core principles of TMS, and a strong desire to have another conference the following year. Forest created a private wiki, called TMSCore, specifically to provide practitioners a forum to discuss TMS-related ideas, develop a set of core principles, and work together to organize another TMS conference.

In the beginning the TMSCore Wiki was successful at providing practitioners a place to discuss ideas and theories about TMS, as well as continue building professional relationships between practitioners. Dave Clarke MD, Barbara Kline LCSW-C, Alan Gordon LCSW, Colleen Perry MFT, Georgie Oldfield, and many others were active on the wiki. The TMSCore wiki was very loosely organized and lacked any strong structure. Eventually the progress on the issues began to slow to a halt, and it became clear that in order to capitalize on the enthusiasm a centralized structured organization would be needed. After seeing the decline in participation on the wiki, Forest wrote an essay in which he reevaluated the strategic plan of the wiki, and mandated creating a TMS Educational Working Group which would work from the basis of the ideas formed at the brainstorming session, including organizing another TMS conference. Forest used a specific criteria in choosing members of the working group. The criteria used was choosing practitioners who organized the first conference, have published articles and books, three doctors and three therapists from different regions, as well as individuals who were active in raising TMS awareness. With this criteria in mind Forest added Frances Sommer Anderson PhD, Dave Clarke MD, Alan Gordon LCSW, Peg Hanson,RN, BSN, David Schechter MD, Howard Schubiner MD, Eric Sherman PsyD, John Stracks MD, and Peter Zafirides MD.Shortly thereafter the group became an incorporated non-profit agency.

With everyone on board the group began to organize teleconference meetings so they could discuss issues and create a strategic plan on how to move forward. In the first teleconferences Dr. Howard Schubiner encouraged the group to focus on having another conference, since most other professional groups start out by holding a series of conferences, which can help groups gain notoriety and support in their field. Alan Gordon became the chairperson of the 2nd conference, which was called the LA Mind-Body Conference at UCLA. Gordon was able to find funding for the conference as well as having it co-sponsored by the Insight Center in LA, which allowed the conference to offer Continuing Educational Units (CEU). Alan Gordon also found a graphic designer to create a pamphlet for the conference.

Because of Alan Gordon's tremendous efforts the LA Mind-Body Conference was a success. There were six speakers at the conference including Frances Sommer Anderson, Dave Clarke, David Schechter, Howard Schubiner, and keynote speaker Ernest Rossi, with Forest acting as the MC. The speakers presented information on their research and history of treating patients with TMS. Through organizing the conference Alan Gordon also made a contact with Doug Lynch of Lynchpin Bio-Media, which develops PR campaigns for companies. Doug Lynch presented at the conference on the media's enthusiasm and skepticism with respect to reporting on new or breakthrough therapies, and how clinicians can engage with local media.

At the end of the conference the members of the working group and Doug Lynch met, and discussed the future of organization. The working group decided to have Doug Lynch and Lynchpin Bio-Media to help formulate a a PR campaign and give suggestions on the most effective way to gain legitimacy for the working group and raise awareness of TMS. Lynchpin Bio-Media assigned eight individuals to advise the working group in its mission. The PR group made several recommendations, including developing a new name for the condition, along with a tag line that expresses the mission of the organization. It was the recommendation of Lynchinpin Biomedia to change the name of TMS to Psychophysiologic Disorders (PPD). After careful deliberation the working group choose to accept these recommendations and change their name to the Psychophysiologic Disorders Association (PPDA).

Board of Directors

Frances Sommer Anderson, PhD: Dr. Anderson has been specialized in treating back pain and other stress-related physical symptoms since 1979. She uses an approach that integrates contemporary psychoanalytic theory, research in the neuroscience of emotional and cognitive processing, and the neurobiology of attachment, pain and trauma. She is co-author of the book Pathways to Pain relief, a book about how to recover from TMS.

Dave Clarke, MD: Dr Clarke is a clinical assistant professor of medicine emeritus at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), a clinical lecturer with Pacific University, is board-certified in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine and practiced Gastroenterology in Portland, Oregon from 1984 to 2009.

Alan Gordon, LCSW: Alan Gordon is a psychotherapist in private practice in Santa Monica who specializes in the treatment of chronic pain using the the TMS approach. He has also written an article called "Miracles of Mindbody Medicine" for the Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal.

Derek Sapico, MFT: Derek Sapico is a psychotherapist in private practice in Burbank, California. He works with individuals in chronic pain using a mind-body approach. He received a Master's in marriage and family therapy from the Univeristy of Southern California in 2007. He joined the Board of Directors in the Fall of 2011.

David Schechter, MD: David Schechter is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Dr. Schechter has over twenty five years of experience with the TMS diagnosis, has treated over a thousand patients has published original research on the subject and is the author of The Mindbody Workbook.

Howard Schubiner, MD: Dr. Howard Schubiner is board-certified in pediatrics, adolescent medicine, and internal medicine. He was a full Professor at Wayne State University for 18 years and now works at Providence Hospital in Southfield, MI, where he directs the the Mind Body Medicine Program that he founded.

Eric Sherman, PsyD: Dr. Sherman currently has a full-time private practice treating adults in psychoanalysis and individual psychotherapy. While on staff at The Rusk Institute, he trained psychology interns in the evaluation and treatment of psychophysiological pain disorders. He is co-author of Pathways to Pain Relief: Treating TMS pain in which he presents clinical case material to illustrate how musculoskeletal pain and other psychophysiological disorders can originate from psychological experiences as a means to protect an individual from unbearable emotional distress.

John Stracks, MD: Dr. Stracks has a practice at the Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness. His training in integrative medicine has taught him that all treatment plans must include not only a mind and body component but a social and spiritual component as well. In addition, Dr. Stracks believes that the most powerful interventions involve changes in nutrition, activity level, and other lifestyle areas, and he works to partner with patients to effect these changes.

Peter Zafirides, MD: Dr. Peter Zafirides is a psychiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. He is President and Co-Founder of Central Ohio Behavioral Medicine (COBM). In September of 2010, Dr. Zafirides began broadcasting a weekly radio show called The Healthy Mind.

Former Board of Directors

Peg Hanson, RN, BSN: Peg Hanson Graduated in 1980, with a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from Northeastern University, Boston, MA. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings, including Intensive Care, Labor and Delivery, Occupational Health, Community Health Centers, Home Care and Family Practice. After resolving her own chronic back pain using a mind body approach, she has worked to educate others about this effective treatment. She attended the first TMS Conference in Ann Arbor and became a member of the working group shortly thereafter. She served as Treasurer of the non-profit group for its first year. She resigned from the PPDA board in the Fall of 2011.

Brooke Mathews, LCSW: Brooke Matthews earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Southern California. She currently works as a psychotherapist at the California Headache and Pain Center, where she has been treating patients in chronic pain since 2008. She joined the Board of Directors in the Fall of 2011, serving as secretary. She resigned from the PPDA board in the Spring of 2012.

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