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Counseling, Therapy & Life Coaching by Dr. Jean Pollack

Fibromyalgia: Treating the Mind and Body

There is a lot of controversy about the physical and psychological aspects of fibromyalgia.

My clients come to me with real pain, and I treat them with a  combination of EMDR therapy and body work, which is done simultaneously with a massage therapist.  The mind and body are treated as one.

During the healing protocol, we process the physical and emotional pain with slow bilateral stimulation to facilitate “parasympathetic processing.”  The bilateral movement is a soft beeping sound produced through a headset that the patient wears.  The bilateral stimulation (beeping) can help to prevent the hyper-activated abreactions and dissociative numbness and can also make  processing possible.

Many times, as we begin to work deeply, clients will deny their feelings that are related to the pain. There is a resistance in the body. They are used to the pain and its presence. When they are encouraged to continue, they describe the visual experience, feelings emerge, and the massage therapist assists the body memories to release by relaxing the ends of the muscles that are holding the tension.

Since the body sensations hold vulnerability and contact with the dissociative process, we move slowly and start with as much preparation time as needed, so that a safe place is established. During our first sessions, we work slowly. I have found that many chronic pain sufferers aren’t always ready to give up their pain, even though they think they are.

One female patient recently told me that  she didn’t know who she would be without her pain while others have secondary issues underlying the pain, or they just want the pain to go away and don’t want to explore the pain around it. Some of my  clients tell me that they want to let go, but there is resistance.

We start with the most recent memories and I suggest that they, “paint a picture of the memory with every sensory detail.”  We continue with slow bilateral stimulation to facilitate “parasympathetic processing.” Visualization continues and at times scary, angry painful memories emerge. These can appear as parts that have been unconsciously functioning to protect  but in protecting they hold the pain and memory.

Allowing communication and compromise for a  less painful way of protecting is offered and is processed with EMDR. The emotions and pain are released emotionally and  further through the release of their body muscles.  EMDR and body work are done simultaneously. I help my clients to identify their current strengths, which helps them to stay in the present and allow the release of old protective mechanisms that are no longer helpful and are, in fact, causing pain. Any unfinished emotions are reviewed and released or contained until the next session.

Our beliefs can hold conflict and unconscious stress in our bodies. I have used EMDR with Therapeutic Massage on clients with fibromyalgia pain and find it to be more helpful than EMDR  or body work alone. When the muscle is constricted, bilateral stimulation has a positive effect of bypassing the resistance. It also seems to deepen the verbal work by releasing body resistance and memories during our EMDR and talk  sessions in the office.  I welcome your questions and comments.

We offer a FREE 15 minute session to new clients. Contact Us to schedule it today. These sessions are only available via phone, email, text and Skype.


2 Responses to Fibromyalgia: Treating the Mind and Body

  • I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago. It has passed from a very acute stage – with the help of acupuncture and some dietary changes and medication.
    I am 71. However I still have a lot of stiffness and depression – and do not recover quickly form stress or flu.
    I have had one session of EMDR with hand to hand stimulation but found it stressful – no massage. So am wondering how much you charge and where your pratice is located.


  • When I read this article I was so glad that someone out there who could help me finally got it. I suffer from Fibromyalgia and believe a lot of my pain can be released if I find a way to unlock my emotional blockage. I have tried going to various counselors for help and have been thrown back into re-living trauma time and again. For me these methods of therapy continued the cycle of my illness and kept my body in the fight or flight mode of reaction.

    After finding Jean Pollack online, I scheduled an appointment. I have only had a couple of EMDR sessions, but have a tremendous amount of change from within myself already. I finally have a belief that I can reverse my Fibromyalgia and become healthy again. Sure it will take time, but it feels so good to have that shining light in my life. It would be great if other Fibromyalgia suffers can find the same support and feel the same hope that I feel.

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