More Information About —
Stop Your Pain! Groups: Learn Neuroplastic Tools That Work
Danielle Rosenman, M.D.
In early 2013, I, along with my colleague Dr. Jan Chambers, developed a new type of group to benefit participants who live with illness, pain, anxiety, and depression. The first group met in spring 2013. Subsequently, I continued to develop groups with a focus on using the principles of brain science and the neuroplastic method that I adapted from Dr. Michael Moskowitz and Dr. Marla Golden.
Unlike any previous groups and classes, which have sought to help people “manage” their symptoms, these innovative experiential groups, originally called “A Change of Mind: Neuroplastic Tools for Healing,” teach participants basic principles and practical applications of the neuroplastic ability of the brain to change, in order to actually reduce and even eliminate symptoms, and improve quality of life.
In a supportive environment, I teach the neuroplastic method, and together we practice creative and practical tools, including well-researched effective techniques that are known to decrease pain, discomfort related to illness, anxiety, and depression. Some of these tools are meditation, imagery, expressive arts, journaling, and music. Participants are encouraged to use their own creativity to develop and use tools that have strong personal meaning and power to help them feel better.
What Is Neuroplasticity?
We now know that the brain changes throughout our entire lives as it “learns” from our perceptions and experiences. This ability to change is called “neuroplasticity.” When we experience symptoms such as pain, discomfort from illness, anxiety, and depression, the brain itself actually changes, creating pathways that can increase and prolong those symptoms.
in individual Medical Counseling sessions or in my groups, “Stop Your Pain! Learn Powerful Tools That Work,” I can teach you how to understand what is happening in your brain when you suffer pain, discomfort, anxiety, and depression.
With this understanding, you can then learn how to direct focused information into the brain using a method most likely to create changes in the brain and reduce your symptoms.
Does This Really Work?
As my own prototype in using this method, I feel better! I have incredibly less pain — much of it is completely gone. I have a much more active life and more enthusiasm, and am able to walk my dog, travel, dance, and have enough energy to work and play all day!
Learning requires focused attention and repetition, and is a slow process. I myself am continuing to work with this method and experience fewer symptoms – I keep feeling better and doing more!
When we understand that every moment of experienced persistent pain or other symptom creates “dysfunctional” repetitive learning in the brain, then we can also understand that unlearning these pathways in the brain requires a similar effort.
As your brain pathways gradually change, your symptoms also change, and you begin to feel better. This process takes time, attention, and practice. You can do it!
What Participants Say
Group participants tell their own stories. Here are some comments from evaluations at the ends of group sessions:
The most valuable thing I learned is that there are concrete things I can do to help myself.
We broke down the Moskowitz/Golden material; doing the exercises in the group really helps.
It’s helpful to have a concrete understanding of what is in the brain.
Being in a group of people who understand pain is a huge thing.
This group was very helpful to me as I struggled with illness.
I use many of the tools to help me deal with symptoms and anxiety.
I am more cheerful and happier. I have hope.
I have less pain already – a real breakthrough after 30 years of chronic back pain – it’s uneven, but to move and not have pain is amazing!
The facilitator is excellent – I don’t know where else I would get this process from someone who could present it so well for nonmedical people.
This group has been a safe place in which to share some difficult challenges and gain a deeper understanding of how my brain works in anxiety and depression.
Overall quality of the group was superb! I was pleased and impressed with the group dynamic and with the skilled and talented facilitator.
Group leader was thoughtful, heartful, very knowledgeable, calming, and smart.
My favorite parts were the toolkits, learning about plasticity, intimate sharing, and acceptance.
My favorite parts were meditation, chocolate, neuroplastic discussions, and learning about the problems of others.
This group was a great way to connect with others facing health challenges and to learn to use tools to improve symptoms. Overall, a high-quality group!
The American Academy of Pain Medicine reports on its Web site the statistic from the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies (in 2011) that 100 million people in this country have experienced chronic pain. As a family physician for many years, I treated many people who had persistent pain. The efficacy of treatment available for pain has been limited; both the patient and treating providers have had to settle for “managing” pain. For many years, I have “managed” pain, both as a physician and as a patient. (My long-time serious back pain eventually resulted in changing my medical practice from Family Medicine to Medical Counseling, which is less physically demanding.)
In September, 2012, I learned of a completely different approach to treating pain. Dr. Michael Moskowitz is a pain treatment physician in Marin County who, along with his associate Dr. Marla Golden in Florida, has developed a treatment program designed to reverse the neuroplastic change in the brain that occurs in persistent pain. I worked with Dr. Moskowitz for a period of months with a dual purpose in mind: I wanted to decrease my own pain, and I also wanted to learn this approach so I could use it to help my own patients.
As I worked with this material, it became clear to me, as a family practice physician who has treated people with a great variety of illnesses and medical conditions, that the neuroplastic approach could also benefit people who did not identify their primary issue as “pain,” but rather as symptoms of illness and medical conditions, anxiety, depression, or reactions to stress. Dr. Moskowitz supports this approach, and has been very supportive of my groups.
Dr. Moskowitz and his work with Dr. Golden are profiled in the first chapter of a book by Dr. Norman Doidge, The Brain’s Way of Healing. Drs. Moskowitz and Golden are receiving national recognition for their groundbreaking work.