Therapy for Chronic Illness and Pain

dandilion fairies.jpg

If you are living with chronic illness or chronic pain, you may feel as if your entire life revolves around coping with symptoms.  Chronic illness and chronic pain can affect your ability to work, your relationships, your finances, your sleep, your ability to enjoy life, and your relationship with your body.

You may be experiencing increased depression, anxiety, anger, and feelings of loneliness and isolation. You may feel as if no one around you understands what it is like to cope with chronic health problems. You may feel as if your body has betrayed you.  

I understand and have personally experienced the challenges of having chronic illness and pain. I wish to be an ally for you and provide a space where you feel safe, held and supported. This time holds the potential for inner exploration, self-awareness, self-love, and transformation.

When life on the outside feels unstable, therapy for chronic illness can be a safe and supportive place to be held.

Therapy sessions are available in-person as well as online from the comfort of your own home.

butterfly.jpg

How can body psychotherapy provide support for chronic illness and chronic pain?

I will support you in listening to your body, and help you to discover what messages your body might be communicating through the manifestation of chronic illness and chronic pain.  In a safe environment, we will explore emotional and mental patterns, as well as inherited family patterns that may be contributing to illness in your body. The body often manifests physical symptoms as a signal to pay attention to ways of being that are no longer serving us.

I will educate you about the connection between your emotions, thoughts, the nervous system, and the immune system. Experience how the fight/ flight/ freeze response manifests in your own body, and how it affects your health and well-being, as well as how to shift from a sympathetic response (fight, flight, freeze) to a parasympathetic response (rest, digest, repair.) Making subtle shifts internally can shift your nervous system and improve your health and well-being.

Learn skills such as mindfulness, relaxation, conscious breathing practices, and healing imagery to manage discomfort and encourage the healing response in body and mind.

Become empowered in your healing process, sending a message to your body of safety, capability, and strength. You will develop a relationship of loving kindness and appreciation with yourself and your body.

Chronic illness and chronic pain are patterns that occurs over time.  Multiple factors including lifestyle, environment, unprocessed emotions and trauma all contribute to the complex workings of our cells and biology.  In therapy for chronic illness, we will bring kindness and gentleness to all parts of yourself, trusting that your body is your greatest teacher through your healing journey.

Do I need to focus on positive thoughts and emotions in order to heal?  

Some people believe that in order to heal from chronic illness they need to let go of all negative thoughts, start saying lots of positive affirmations, and only think positive, happy thoughts.  It is true that what we feel has a strong effect on our physiology.  The field of psychoneuroimmuiology studies the connection between the mind, nervous system and immune system.  There are lots of wonderful books about this mind-body connection, such as "Molecules of Emotion," by Candace Pert.  Positive emotions such as love, compassion, joy, and peace stimulate the production of endorphins, which activate the rest, repair and healing functions of the body.  Studies have shown that watching funny movies, for example, boosts the immune system.

On the other hand, what is most healing is simply to allow ourselves to feel exactly what is true and authentic for us right now.  We may be walking around with an ocean of grief or a volcano of anger held inside us, that has not been given permission to be felt or expressed.  We may have the belief that feeling these emotions will be overwhelming or will hurt someone.  Therapy for chronic illness is a safe space to let yourself feel and express whatever emotions are needing space to be felt.  Often what these emotions are longing for is just a safe place to be felt, understood, and expressed.  What lies at a deeper place beneath these emotions is a feeling of wholeness and well-being that is authentically positive, loving, and nourishing.  From this place you will connect naturally to compassion and kindness for yourself, which will promote healing in your body.

Will body psychotherapy help decrease my chronic pain?

Chronic pain such as back pain, migraine headaches, or widespread pain from fibromyalgia are caused by a variety of factors.  Repetitive movement, accidents or injuries, inflammation, hormones, and stress are a few of these factors. Body psychotherapy can be helpful to help identify what emotions, such as anxiety or anger are contributing to the experience of pain in your body.  Through mindfulness, you can learn to become aware of how these emotions are arising in your body and mind.  Sometimes just becoming present and bringing loving-kindness to the sensations of physical pain and anxiety will help to reduce their intensity. During body psychotherapy sessions you will learn techniques for managing chronic pain, such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, grounding, progressive relaxation, and healing imagery.

What is my background in providing body psychotherapy for chronic illness and pain?

My professional qualifications include a Master's degree in Somatic Counseling Psychotherapy from Naropa University, as well as training in the Hakomi method. I have been a body therapist since 1999, offering individual sessions in massage therapy and body psychotherapy, as well as leading mind-body workshops for chronic illness and pain. I have provided individual and group support at a cancer support center called QuaLife Wellness Community. I have also been through my own personal healing journeys in which I have deeply explored my inner landscape of mind and body.

Sessions are available in-person as well as online from the comfort of your own home.

If you are ready to receive support on your healing journey, please contact me today to schedule a 30 minute free consultation.

photos on this page by Jennifer Angelina Petro


”Treating a patient on the physical plane alone is like fixing a leaky roof by drilling a hole in the floor. Healing must also address why an illness or depression developed. On this level, healing is not so much concerned with “fixing” the symptom as with asking what truth is being ignored or what unconscious aspects of the patient are being neglected. Frequently, the symptoms reflect messages the person’s inner being is trying to convey. Illness is sometimes the only way this essence can balance its emotional energy and can jar a person into noticing something.”
— Mitchel Gaynor, M.D., Healing Essence