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The SIRPA Approach

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I've been where you are. I know how lonely and frustrating having these symptoms feel. I know how invisible I felt at times. The good news is, I found a way to conquer my symptoms and regain my life. Combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness, and Compassion Focused Therapy, the SIRPA Approach was the final piece in the puzzle in terms of lasting relief from chronic pain, anxiety, and all the other stress-related illnesses I had been diagnosed with.

SIRPA™

SIRPA™ stands for Stress Illness Recovery Practitioner's Association. It was established in 2010 by UK Chartered Physiotherapist, Georgie Oldfield. The organisation provides training for health professionals who would like to train in the evidence-based approach to relieve chronic pain and stress illness.

As stated on their website the SIRPA™ approach...

 

                         "...uses up-to-date pain science in their education because evidence

                         shows this plays an important role in a pain relief approach. SIRPA’s

                         approach is based on the understanding that unexplained chronic

                         pain is due to neural circuits that have become learned and

                         sensitised. Therefore by using a mind-body approach the

                         reprogramme these learned neural circuits, while also identifying

                         and addressing the underlying causes of the pain."

SIRPA™ also provides an                                                    for people who would like to learn how to overcome their symptoms using the approach. This can be worked through alone, or with the support of a SIRPA™ trained professional.

I completed my SIRPA™ training in 2019, so am qualified to support you through the program. If you are interested in this option, once you have purchased the course (from the link above) then complete this                                  stating the date that you purchased it and any specific requirements you have.

What is Stress Illness?

Stress is the effect on our body, produced by the demands we put on it. It can be perceived as good or bad. Therefore it has physical and psychological elements to it. If anything or anyone has too much pressure or demand placed on them, for too long, there will be adverse effects on physical and emotional health. This is when we start to see Stress Illnesses occur.

 

 

Stress Illnesses can present in a variety of different ways and cause very real pain and in many cases fatigue. The symptoms will often baffle medical professionals, with a number of tests and investigations often being performed, and specialists, doctors and holistic remedies being sought.

 

 

Diagnoses are given to groups of symptoms, but often treatments focus on alleviating symptoms, rather than curingthe underlying causes. This is because those are not well recognised by mainstream medicine as yet. This is not due to lack of research or evidence. It is just that it can take a long time for new approaches to become well known and accepted by the medical profession (especially when they are different to what they have previously been taught).

Stress Illness can also be know by many other names; Psychophysiological Disorder (PPD), Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMS) or Mindbody Syndrome (MBS). Whatever you call it, there are a number of ways to recognise it.

 

 

Symptoms that have lasted for more than 6-8 weeks are likely to be Stress Illness, unless there is evidence of an ongoing infection, fracture, cancer or autoimmune condition. This is because an acute injury or infection is likely to heal or recover in that time span. If it has not then the physical sensations that remain (that may well still be experienced as pain) will be using the established neural pathway to the brain. In imaging studies it has been shown that there is more activity in the region of the brain associated with the body part where the pain is sensed in the first few weeks. But after approximately six weeks the activity is much more pronounced in the emotional centre of the brain.

There are times that sensations or other symptoms are produced without an initiating injury or illness. Yet, in all cases, symptoms are seen to be a signal to bring attention to something, either in the here and now, or the past. This approach is based on the understanding that pain (and other unpleasant symptoms) are produced as a warning sign, by the brain, that something is needing attention. It does not necessarily mean that there is damage in the body!

 

 

In the short-term, the symptoms can be due to physical injury or illness that needs time to heal. Or may require medical attention to support it to return to 'normal'. However, if symptoms become chronic i.e. lasting more than 8 weeks, the body has physically healed and the signal is created to inform us of unresolved emotional content that requires attention.

 

 

If the underlying cause is not adequately addressed then the pain/symptom continues. Other symptoms (itching, burning sensations, bloating, aches, anxiety, depression etc.) may also occur as the brain tries to draw attention to unresolved issues. This is why it is difficult for medical professionals to diagnose and treat Stress Illnesses. They are focused on the biomechanical working of the body, and tend not to consider the role of our brain, thoughts, emotions, or actions, on our overall health.

 

This misunderstanding by medical professionals fuels mistrust by friends, family and society as a whole. It can lead other people to think those with Stress Illness are lying, lazy, or crazy.

 

 

This obviously adds significant stress and upset to an already difficult situation. It can cause people to feel misunderstood, invisible, unsafe, lonely. And lead to further issues with mental health such as depression, PTSD, or anxiety disorders. 

 

 

Living with the many misunderstood and invisible symptoms caused by Stress Illness does not have to be a life sentence, however. Read on to find out what treatment and support is available. But first check out if you recognise any of these symptoms (you probably have 2 or 3 at least).

 

Symptoms, syndromes and conditions classed as Stress Illnesses:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Allergies/hay fever

  • Anxiety symptoms or panic attacks

  • Back, neck or other aches and pains

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Constipation or diarrhoea

  • Depression

  • Eczema

  • Eating disorders

  • Fatigue/tiredness/lethargy

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Food intolerances

  • Frequent infections e.g. bladder, thrush, chest, ear

  • Hiatus hernia or heartburn/reflux

  • Hyperventilation or shortness of breath

  • IBS/colitis/spastic colon

  • Insomnia

  • Irritable Bladder

  • Low BP

  • ME/CFS

  • Migraines

  • Nausea

  • Numbness, itching, burning, tingling

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

  • Palpitations, rapid heart rate

  • Panic Disorder

  • Phobias

  • Pelvic Pain

  • Post-Natal Depression/Illness

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • POTS

  • Raynaud’s disease

  • Restless leg Syndrome

  • Repetitive cough

  • Repetitive Strain Injury

  • Self-harm

  • Stomach – ulcers, reflux, heartburn etc

  • Swallowing difficulties or gagging

  • Tendonitis

  • Tension headache

  • Tinnitus

  • Ulcer symptoms

  • Undiagnosed chest pain

  • Vertigo/dizziness

  • Verrucas

  • Vomiting

  • Warts

Treatments and Support

If this is resonating, and you would like to know if this approach will help you, you can check by taking this quiz: 

 

 

 

 

I offer a comprehensive, holistic, 6-month, Individual Therapy Plan to support you in recovery. This can be accessed here:

 

 

Or if you would prefer, I also offer individualised support to work through the SIRPA™ online recovery course. This can be purchased here:

 

 

 

 

I also produce several free resources. You can check those out here:

Clearly CBD

In addition to individual support and the online course, the other thing that many people have found useful in their quest to overcome pain and anxiety is CBD oil and creams. I have spent some time researching this and have found a company that offers great products from a sustainable source via an ethical and legal route.

 

Please click on the links below to see read more about the science, and benefits, and to check out the full selection of CBD oil, skincare, vape liquid, and capsules available.

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