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Changing beliefs about chronic pain

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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.


New York photoExcitingly, attendance at each conference grown as the message spreads further afield to other health professionals who become interested in learning how to integrate this approach within their own professional work.

My own attendance at each conference has been important for me because it has allowed me to create and develop relationships with other Specialists in the field.  This was especially important for me initially while there was so little awareness of this concept amongst other health professionals in the UK.  I also very much appreciate the PPDA committee’s inclusion of me in their meetings whenever I am in the US, about the future of their work in the US, as we all work together to spread the word.

While waiting for my flight I have been reflecting on my own ‘journey’ since I first read one of Dr John Sarno’s books and ultimately set off on my first visit to the US to learn from him. Having rarely travelled on my own prior to this, that visit to New York in 2007 was the start of a number of work related journeys to, not only the US, but also Italy.  Lake Maggiore was the beautiful venue for a 2 day course I was asked to run for employees of the EEC who were suffering from chronic pain, which was a new and exciting challenge.

I feel incredibly grateful for all the support I have had during my journey to being able to not just help my patients manage their pain, but actually help them recover, which can often be life changing.  Not only was Dr Sarno so supportive, but also other Specialists, such as Howard Schubiner MD and Dave Clarke MD have been very generous with their time and support. In Howard’s case, even inviting me to stay with him and his wife for the first ever conference in this field, which he organized in 2009.

The following conference was in Los Angeles in 2010 and I am indebted to a lovely lady who funded my flights to ensure that I was able to attend the conference and therefore be able to continue developing my work.  After resisting the offer initially, I acquiesced when she suggested I accept it as a ‘pay it forward’ loan.  This was such a wonderful gesture and when I have been able to offer support in any way to others since then, I have also suggested they do the same.

So, my journey to being able to develop awareness in the UK of this approach to resolving the numerous conditions that are stress-induced, both amongst health professionals via my SIRPA Training and to people in pain, has been enabled by a number of different people to whom I feel very grateful.  I know there is a long way to go yet, but I am going home with a determination to continue towards my goal of having this concept widely understood and accepted within the medical world and the general public before I retire!

I have a good few years yet, but I recognize that when trying to change widely believed paradigms, it can take a long time.  When you look at some of the examples below, you can see just how big a challenge those of us working in this field have taken on as we attempt to change the widespread belief that pain is due to a physical cause.

Examples of changes in paradigms that took years to become widely accepted, include:

  • Medical - that washing hands before delivering a baby, or changing a dressing, could save lives.
  • Physical - the fact that the earth is round, not flat
  • Aviation – that we could fly like a bird
  • Technologically – that we could speak to someone on the other side of the world, or even run online conferences with attendees from all over the world at the same time.
  • Evolution of rights - That women should be allowed to vote.

This might seem daunting, but I really believe that things are changing and these days people are becoming fed up with the limited help available to people with chronic pain, despite all the medical advancements and technology.  Times are changing and I feel very grateful for being a part of this revolutionary and often life changing approach to the resolution of chronic pain.

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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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