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What do chronic pain and skydiving have in common?

While on holiday recently I was given the opportunity to face one of my fears and do something that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing a few years ago..... Jumping out of an aeroplane. Now you might be someone who thinks this is fun and exciting, rather than frightening, but that just goes to show that fear itself is not caused by what's happening, but how you perceive it. This is why the acronym FEAR is often used for, 'False Experiences Appearing Real' is so often used.

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Planning for challenges can actually help you succeed!

Who we are and what we do are all based on our past experiences.  When things happen over time consistently, especially where emotion is involved, they have more of an effect on us. We learn how to behave and our personality is molded as a result of our environment and the feedback we get from others.

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Bringing medical evidence to the masses

Over the past few years it has become more and more apparent that there is a flaw in the 'Medical' model, with more and more rigorous studies showing that psychosocial factors play a huge part in chronic pain and other persistent health conditions. With a number of studies now demonstrating that there is no link between pain and structure (or even posture and biomechanics), there has been more emphasis on exploring the link between psychosocial factors and chronic pain.

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How removing your shadow can improve

The concept behind stress-induced pain is that it is a manifestation of unresolved emotions.  There’s a tendency to think of it as due mainly to past emotional turmoil that we have bottled up and which we need to identify and acknowledge in order to  ‘defuse’ the emotional ‘charge’ for the pain.

This is often true, but it can be very frustrating for those people who have spent quite some time exploring all their past experiences in order to try and deal with what they believe must be causing their pain, yet they remain in pain. Frequently I meet people who firmly believe there must still be some deeply hidden emotional ‘trauma’ that they can’t remember, but which they believe must be causing their pain to continue.

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Using willpower to break the pain cycle

So how are you doing with your new year resolutions?  Have you managed to keep them up, or have they fallen by the wayside? Unfortunately too often that’s the case because people don’t persist until the new behaviour becomes ingrained unconsciously.

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The reality of imagination in recovery from chronic pain

Chronic pain is widely believed to be due to a physical abnormality in the body.  Although it is now recognised that the sensitization of nerve pathways are involved in the perpetuation of chronic pain, physical treatments tend to be aimed at addressing the symptoms rather than the nerve pathways themselves.

It is now accepted that psychosocial factors can affect pain, although there is still resistance to the fact that they can actually trigger pain in the first place. Combine the belief that chronic pain is due to a physical cause with the old belief that the brain is static and unchanging, then it becomes clear why treatment options in the conventional medical world are aimed at suppression or management of chronic symptoms, rather than resolving them.

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The pain involved in caring

We all know that back pain is incredibly common with one study in 2000 reporting that almost half of the adult population in the UK, 49%, experienced back pain for at least 24 hours in the year.  Unfortunately for carers this is much higher, with a study in 2011 showing that 70% of them experience back and shoulder pain.

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Development of SIRPA - Part 2

Continued...  To read part one, please click here.

 

I was also beginning to wonder why, if core stability is so important in preventing and resolving back pain, I was seeing so many people who had often already worked for months on programmes for core stability, yet they then came to me for pain relief. Other times symptoms would move around the body, bearing no relation to any physical ‘abnormality’ that might have been found on MRI. There were also frequent occasions over the years when patients would become completely pain free, despite still having the severe degeneration that had been attributed to the pain.

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Development of SIRPA - Part 1

My journey as a Physiotherapist began in 1983, although I have to say that the past 5 years have been the most rewarding. The main reason for this is that now I see so many life-changing results with people whose lives have been severely affected by chronic pain. So how did a Physiotherapist like me come to specialise in a non-hands on approach that caused a 180⁰ turnaround in my understanding and treatment of chronic pain?

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Does the Blame Game cause you Pain?

Once you realize just how common stress-induced pain is, you can begin to identify the patterns and triggers for your pain.  I’m not talking about things such as eating chocolate causing migraine or back pain might be triggered by bending, lifting or even lying down. These are all physical patterns that you have become conditioned to over time.

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Questions David Cameron should be considering



I’m writing this on the day it has been reported that David Cameron has developed acute low back pain while on holiday on the island of Jura in Scotland.  Shame it wasn’t next week because I will be up on a neighbouring island and could have helped him!

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How technology helped this lady recover from severe back pain!

Working in a pioneering field can be frustrating at times because we are so often challenging people’s belief’s about the cause of their chronic pain. As you will also see though, some patients have to overcome much more than just a belief in order to recover.

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How daydreaming can help you resolve your pain

You hear people say, " Dreams can inspire you, but goals can change your life." I would suggest that it would be more beneficial to combine them, because each use opposite sides of the brain, which can enhance the results.

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SIRPA - quick fix, or life lessons?

There is a saying, ‘You teach best what you most need to learn’ and this is so true for me.

I didn’t have persistent pain, but I did have a number of health issues /pain conditions that kept recurring before I came across Dr Sarno’s concept of TMS, which made me realize that they were all emotionally induced. 

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How can patting yourself on the back help with pain relief?

Support and encouragement from others can help us succeed as we learn new skills or overcome challenges. Self-talk is also very important because how we speak to ourselves can either help you succeed in life, or hold you back.

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How terms such as 'I ought to...' can result in pain

Much of chronic pain is actually triggered, and then driven, by the brain and central nervous system as part of our response to stress. Our perceived stress is more about how we respond to what's going on in our lives, rather than what's actually happening.

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Can you choose not to be in pain?

Much of chronic pain is actually triggered, and then driven, by the brain and central nervous system as part of our response to stress. Our perceived stress is more about how we respond to what's going on in our lives, rather than what's actually happening.

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How can letting go of anger resolve your pain?

Katie Piper was a victim of a horrific sulphuric acid attack, after which she had to endure dozens of painful operations to help repair the injuries the acid burns had caused, including blindness in one eye and facial disfigurement.  Katie was a woman whose career as a model and television presenter revolved around her looking not just good, but great.

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How could pigs help your chronic pain?

frustrated manIn previous blogs I have explained how we create self-induced stress by the way we speak to ourselves. Whether or not there are external issues causing problems in our lives, we are so often 'in our heads' that we create considerable stress by the inner turmoil resulting from how we talk to ourselves.  Unfortunately as we now know, this can result in real physical pain.

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Are you talking yourself into pain? 2/4

Identifying Patterns

If you watched the first video of this series you will have already begun to develop an awareness of how you speak to yourself and how this is creating self-induced stress.  Unfortunately this can result in inner turmoil which then 'fuels', or can even trigger, pain.

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Are you talking yourself into pain? 4/4

Some Simple Strategies

Welcome back for the last of the 4 videos about how to develop more health-enhancing self talk. So far you have developed an awareness of how you cause yourself stress due to your inner chatter, which is an important start of you want to do something about it.

In the 2nd video you will have identified any patterns of thoughts that do create inner turmoil for you, as when and where these are most likely to happen.  Hopefully you will also have identified some benefits of making some changes because this will help with your motivation to persist if you're tired or things get tough.

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Are you talking yourself into pain? 3/4

Recognising the benefits

Welcome back for the 3rd video in the series about how to develop more health-enhancing self talk.  This is where we look at how the way we speak to ourselves can create self-induced stress, which can result in the perpetuation of chronic pain.

In the first two videos you will have developed an awareness of how you cause yourself stress as a result of the way you speak to yourself and you have probably been able to identify some patterns.

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Are you talking yourself into pain? 1/4

It is now recognised that pain is often stress-induced and if the nerve pathways become learned, chronic pain can result. The emphasis when helping patients recover from chronic pain is to educate them about this concept and to help them identify the psychosocial links and triggers involved in the pain patterns.

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How stress puts your health at risk

If you are reading this blog you will probably already know that unresolved stress and emotional turmoil can result in very real physical symptoms, such as pain.  There are more and more studies supporting this but a recent one is the first one to actually measure the effect stressful thoughts have on the body.

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Preventing the onset of chronic pain

For over 30 years ex-professional boxer, Keith Tate of Cleckheaton, has run a boxing gym to motivate kids and get them off the street, while also fostering young children on remand.  Until 1 week ago Keith had been struggling to deal with all his responsibilities due to severe debilitating pain, despite spending about £700 on treatment in the previous 3 weeks.  However, within days of having an assessment at Georgie Oldfield’s pioneering Pain Clinic Keith was pain free and back in the gym.

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The good, the bad or the ugly - where's your focus?

Where do you find your thoughts are focussed most of the time?  Because we live in such a blame society where we often don’t take responsibility for our own actions, most people’s thoughts tend to focus on the things we don’t like or want, rather than what we do like or want.

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Pain in the Brain

The Brain’s involvement in pain is becoming better understood – but the mind is often still sidelined.  I am writing this on the train coming back from London where I was attending a conference, titled. ‘Pain in the Brain’. I was quite excited about what new research might be mentioned and because it was jointly organized between the Psychiatry team and the Pain/Rheumatology/Rehabilitation sections of the Royal Society of Medicine, I was hoping that there would be a significant emphasis on the mind’s involvement in the pain cycle. 

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The relationship between stress, pain and breathing

When we feel stressed and anxious we tend to breathe faster and more shallowly and we tend to use our upper chest muscles more than using our diaphragm, which is the main muscle of respiration.  We might sigh a lot, or yawn, and maybe find it difficult to take a deep breath.  These are all signs of hyperventilation and if it is isn’t recognized it can lead on to panic attacks at times of heightened anxiety and also an increase in pain.

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New Year, New You

I saw a quote on Facebook this week, which said “What is a New Year resolution?  It’s a list of goals for the first week of January!”  It made me chuckle, but it’s true that most people set goals without realising that it takes more than just vocalising their desire to change and making a start.

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Stressed with Christmas? - Put a pen in your mouth!

man with lightsChristmas can be a time of joy and fun, but it can also be a time when there are a lot of responsibilities and you end up; doing things you don’t really want to do, being with people you don’t want to be with or being places you don’t really want to be!   It ‘s said that stress is just 10% of what happens to us and 90% how we deal with it, so understanding how your posture can affect your mood might even help you cope better this Christmas, and maybe even enjoy yourself, despite what’s happening.

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Just when I thought my pain had gone...........

So often I hear people say that they had recovered from their pain and then a few weeks, months or even years later their pain returned and then they can find it a struggle to resolve it again.

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10 Tips for a healthy Christmas

We all know how stressful Christmas, and the lead up to it, can be as we try to organize the ‘perfect’ day.  The list of things to do usually includes deciding on the ‘perfect’ presents, guests, food and drinks and buying them, parties, planning what to do, when and who with etc

Not only do we try to fit all this in, but in the meantime we usually carry on with our normal activities, often trying to stretch our finances because we haven’t saved enough to cover the additional expense Christmas causes.  All this creates even more stress and emotional turmoil.

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The inextricable link between emotions and pain

Anyone who has suffered with persistent pain will know how much pain can affect your emotions and therefore your mood.  This has been widely demonstrated through clinical studies, but the opposite has also shown to occur, with emotions affecting your perception of pain. 

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The underlying cause of sciatica

If you have ever had full blown sciatica, you will know just how painful it can be.  I remember a particular episode I had soon after leaving the NHS and setting up my own private practice.  I hadn’t done anything particularly physical, yet I woke up in agony and for 2 weeks had to ask my family to put on my shoes and socks because I couldn’t bend over without being in agony.

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Changing beliefs about chronic pain

I’m writing this in New York’s JFK airport while waiting for my flight back home after the PPDA conference.  This is the third conference organized by health professionals who, like me, are passionate about raising awareness of the fact that many people with chronic pain can actually recover.

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From conventional to pioneering Physiotherapist

My journey as a Physiotherapist began in 1983, although I have to say that the past 5 years have been the most rewarding. The main reason for this is that now I see so many life-changing results with people whose lives have been severely affected by chronic pain. So how did a Physiotherapist like me come to specialise in a non-hands on approach that caused a 180⁰ turnaround in my understanding and treatment of chronic pain?

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The Reason for non-traumatic pain

Thankfully these days there is more and more evidence showing that chronic pain is often not actually due to trauma, or damage to cells in the body, but to psychosocial stresses.

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Stopping to 'smell the roses'

Do you find that you are usually so busy 'doing' that life passes you by without you really noticing it?  How often do you actually stop to 'smell the roses'?

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Defragging your Brain

Do you sometimes struggle to sleep because your brain is going nineteen to the dozen? Or are you finding it difficult to meditate, even though you know it could help you, because you just can’t stop thinking? 

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Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to cope with the information overload we experience these days as well as the constant mind chatter we all experience.  So many of my patients tell me they don’t know how to meditate, or say they just ‘can’t do it’, so this blog explains how meditation can be so helpful, while also providing you off with a ‘quick start’ guide to mindfulness meditation.

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Chronic Severe Low Back Pain Attributed to Spinal Degeneration

Since the 1970’s MRI research has shown that spinal degeneration is just as common in people without pain.  This case study demonstrates the truth in this.

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Being courageous, looking for the positive and asking for help

Being courageous, looking for the positive and asking for help when necessary are all very helpful things to remember when recovering from Stress Illness.  Full story here….

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Watch where your focus is!

 “When one door of happiness closes another opens, but we often look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us”  Helen Keller

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David Walliams is reported to have suffered a ‘slipped disc’

David Walliams is reported to have suffered a ‘slipped disc’ while swimming theThamesfor charity recently.  Could someone please tell me how anyone can ‘slip’ a disc while doing something as benign as swimming?

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Information Overload

It is widely recognised that tension headaches are caused feeling overwhelmed by the pressure we find ourselves under, yet we now recognise that stress causes significantly more chronic health problems than just the odd headache.

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Fibromyalgia

 

Fibromyalgia causes and treatmentsFibromyalgia (FM) actually means, ‘painful muscles and fibrous tissues’.  There are no diagnostic tests for Fibromyalgia so a diagnosis is made by ruling out any other conditions and by the presence of at least 11 out of 18 tender muscles in the body.

The widespread belief is that Fibromyalgia is incurable, but that is based on the belief that the cause is physical. The symptoms themselves are very real and often debilitating, yet the underlying cause, as with all the other conditions mentioned on this site, is a result of past or current stress.

This is backed up by research findings which show that people with Fibromyalgia have had much higher rates of stress and abuse in their lives compared with the average population.(Goldberg et al. Disability and Rehabilitation. 1999, 21:23-30 & van Houdenhove Psychosomatics. 2001, 42:21-28)

Fibromyalgia patients are often 'copers'
Due to the stigma about mental health, people suffering with FM often find it impossible to accept that their debilitating condition could possibly be caused by stress, especially as these stresses are often unconcsious. My findings are that people with Fibromyalgia are often emotionally very strong people who put others first and are copers. 

The symptoms are a reaction to the bottling up of just how angry or hurt they are deep inside due to trauma that might have happened many years previously. One recent study undertaken by Howard Schubiner MD, one of the other Specialists in our field, demonstrated very promising results of FM sufferers who had followed his programme. (Hsu MC et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2010 Oct;25(10):1064-70). They continue to study this treatment approach for patients with FM.

There are a number of treatments for Fibromyalgia, but these mainly involve physical approaches which are aimed at the symptom management.  When looking to successfuly treat and cure Fibromyalgia it is important to address the underlying causes for long term success.

Full Recovery is possible
I have been developing the SIRPA™ approach over the past few years based on growing evidence demonstrating that the brain can cause very real pain even where there is no physical damage. By addressing the underlying cause and because the process is reversible, full recovery is possible as you can see from the many real success stories, such as Jane's 

logo

 

To find out more about how you too could recover

from your Fibromyalgia listen to this free introductory audio  

 

 

Steps to recovery

  1. Listen to the full SIRPA Recovery audio or CD for a full understanding and tools to help you begin your own recovery journey.
  2. The online SIRPA Recovery Programme – provides more in depth information, strategies and support for those who require additional guidance.
  3. One to one consultations with myself in person or via skype are possible, either for assessment or to help provide motivation and guidance while you are following the programme.

 

Other conditions we can help with:

• Repetitive Strain Injury

Low Back Pain

• Whiplash

• Sciatica

 Inconsistencies relating to current theories about chronic pain

 

 

 

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Your Key to Recovery

 'Chronic Pain: your key to recovery', by Georgie Oldfield MCSP, the first UK-written book about this cutting edge approach.

Find out more about how you could recover from chronic pain and other persistent health problems and the click through to buy from Amazon. 

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Meet Georgie

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What others say ...

Hazel Cross - back pain, anxiety & depression

After suffering from severe back pain and anxiety and depression I was constantly seeking a cure for my pain which became very expensive and I was finding I had reactions to pain medication. I felt a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders when I finally met Georgie and she assessed me.  At first I was naturally skeptical, but now I realise it was the best approach. I am now virtually pain free and would highly recommend Georgie and the SIRPA programme. It all clicked into place when I read the programme and  I still read it every now and again. I am much more active now than I used to be because before I was unable to go outside. I hope you will find help from Georgie whom I highly recommend.

Irene - update 4 years after recovery

I am totally pain free in both legs .... and feel wonderful.   I enjoy life so much and will always be grateful to you and Dr. Sarno.  Whenever I get a twinge of (what used to be) sciatica, I can will it away by just using the techniques you taught me, but that happens very rarely.   I thoroughly enjoy the SIRPA newsletter you send out every month and always read it avidly. You're doing such great work and I love the fact that you're going from strength to strength, expanding and spreading your knowledge to others who need help.

L.Phillips - hand & back pain

"This is not a quick fix but if you want to get to the root of your pain and are prepared to go on a journey that will last a lifetime, then the SIRPA programme is for you. The online material will provide you with all the tools you need to understand and change your pain, but the assessment and ongoing support from Georgie was essential for me. Just knowing I could quickly email any worries if anything went wrong was a great comfort and knowing I had a regular appointment helped me maintain the momentum and keep going. I would recommend the programme to anyone who is struggling with pain that cannot be explained or has no serious underlying cause."

C. Henderson - Backpain

"The work I have done with Georgie has been life changing... I have been working through the SIRPA online program at my own pace (as I have a little baby) and booked a package of 1:1 sessions with Georgie, which we carried out on Skype. The online program is so well structured & the 1:1 sessions were a wonderful supportive lifeline, especially when I experienced setbacks. Georgie always promptly, professionally & compassionately responded to my emails in between sessions. She is hugely knowledgeable, supportive & practices what she preaches, which makes her approach so genuine." 

Sally - Sciatica

I had been following the SIRPA online programme for nearly 3 weeks before deciding that I would benefit from seeing Georgie in person. I was very glad I attended the appointment and it was well worth the 3 hour journey from London! (Which in itself was a challenge that a month prior I would never have tackled!) Seeing Georgie really helped me feel like I was less alone in my pain, I felt the face-to-face contact with Georgie spurred me forward in understanding and accepting that I have been suffering from stress-illness. Having a physical examination and Georgie talking me through different examples that were similar to my own experiences, really helped me feel motivated and encouraged in continuing my path on the online SIRPA Recovery Programme. 

L.Stoddart - patient

Georgie is absolutely dedicated to trying to improve the lives of chronic pain sufferers by helping us to understand what lies behind our pain and giving us the tools with which we can turn our lives around and end what, for some of us, has been years of pain. She is smart, enthusiastic and very approachable and will bend over backwards to give additional support when required.  From my own experience with Georgie I can wholeheartedly recommend her to all chronic pain sufferers.

Amaya from Spain

I have no words to say how thankful I am for Georgie's support. From the very first contact on the phone, she was keen to help,  inspiring me trust and confidence.  She has been key in my recovery. The fact that she has a background as a Physiotherapist really helps because she perfectly understands what you mean when speaking about physical symptoms. You can tell she is passionate for what she does and her work is enhanced by her human touch and sensitiveness.  Amaya, Spain

James Wiltshire

"I hope that all is well with you and your mission. I sent you a few emails last year and you were so incredibly helpful.  Dr Sarno's work and your help meant that I have gone from chronic RSI on statutory sick pay to going self-employed musician. I have never felt more balance and physically I really feel best ever! I would always recommend people to you Georgie."

Carol - backpain and prolapsed disc

"I've been testing and pushing myself to the limit.  e.g. climbing trees, zooming down 150 feet high zip wires, climbing over un-mentionable obstacles.  Cycling up and down some very severe hills, camping and sleeping on the floor, moving furniture and lifting and manoeuvring a very heavy wardrobe!  All of which I have not done for at least 20 years for fear of hurting and making my back worse.  Thanks once again Georgie."

Wayne Kampers MRCPsych

"Georgina has an infectious and warm disposition. She is passionate about the Mind-Body link and her dedication to establishing what is still not accepted in mainstream healthcare is admirable and refreshing. She believes she can make a difference and because her belief is unshakable she does make a difference! The world could do with a lot more people like her.” Consultant Psychiatrist

Professional Endorsements

Member of the Royal Society of Medicine