Mind-Body Healing

Pain Coaching  |  MAP Method  | Acupuncture 

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I’m Helen Scharber, PhD, LAc, and it’s my mission to help restore your health and vitality using

I practice these modalities because they helped me so much, and I am delighted to offer them to you.

About Pain Coaching

A cutting-edge approach to healing chronic pain using your own neuroplastic brain.

Some coaches aim to help you manage and live with pain more easily. My approach uses neuroplasticity to address and heal the root causes of many types of chronic pain.

We now know that our brains our responsible for all the pain that we feel. Sometimes this pain helps us prevent further structural damage, like when it causes us to jerk our hand away from a hot stove or stay off a sprained ankle. Other times, the brain creates pain in the absence of structural or organic damage, because the danger signal gets stuck in the “on” position. This second type of pain is sometimes called “neuroplastic” pain. It is real and it can be disabling, but it is not helpful or necessary.

In coaching sessions, I help you and your brain “unlearn” pain using techniques I learned from mind-body pain experts Dr. Howard Schubiner and Hal Greenham.

Coaching can help people “unlearn” many kinds of chronic pain. A partial list includes most back, neck, and other musculoskeletal pain; headaches and migraines; IBS; fibromyalgia; eczema and other skin conditions; depression and anxiety; and medically unexplained pain and fatigue. 

I work as a teacher, guide, and cheerleader to help you understand what’s causing your pain, provide tools to help address it, and  empower you to take charge of your healing.

Yes, Dr. John Sarno was one of the first practitioners to understand and teach the relationship between psychology and physical pain. In his theory, repressed emotions (usually anger) were understood to be the main cause of pain (usually in the back). Dr. Sarno advised patients to “think psychological, not physical” in order to resolve this kind of pain.

In my experience, feeling repressed emotions is not always necessary to reduce neuroplastic pain, but doing so can often help turn down the danger signal in the brain.

This post from the Psychophysiologic Disorders Association (PPDA) provides further insight into the difference between Dr. Sarno’s approach and the one I use.

The role of the brain in pain

Determining the cause of chronic pain

About the MAP Method

Six MAP sessions helped me resolve multiple food intolerances and live with less pain. 

The MAP MethodTM was pioneered by psychologist Dr. Garry Flint, who called it Process Healing, in the 1990s. Dr. Flint discovered a way of giving instructions to the subconscious mind that allowed for rapid release of charged or traumatic memories. Colette and Val Streicher systematized Dr. Flint’s instructions, renaming it MAP, since it seems to Make Anything Possible.

It’s a bit hard to describe, but the experience is something like a guided meditation. The first session teaches the healing process to your subconscious mind using metaphors – the lingua franca of the subconscious. After that, I use cues from you, my own intuition, and most importantly, the highly systematized method itself, to offer guidance to your subconscious mind. Specifically, I guide your subconscious to release the charge from memories that keep you in a state of sympathetic activation, so that your mind and body can relax.

Your main job in a MAP session is to relax and listen passively to guidance I offer to your subconscious mind. Amazingly, you don’t have to be consciously aware of the underlying stressors that may be causing your problems. I’ll usually ask you to bring to mind something that is creating stress – it could be anything from your frustration with having pain to a difficult interpersonal interaction – and the process will naturally bring up and help us unravel any related knots.
Although we are working with your subconscious mind, you remain awake, aware, and fully in control throughout the session.
When I first heard about MAP, I was more than a little cynical, after trying so many things that promised to work and didn’t. I can’t promise that MAP will work for you–we’re all so different–but I can provide resources to help you make an informed decision.

The MAP Coaching Institute website and YouTube page offer useful introductory videos. Sometimes the vibe there is a little more new agey than I feel at home with, but heck, it seems to work.

My go-to resource when I was still on the fence about MAP was Madeleine Lowry’s Flourish with Neural Retraining podcast. In it, she interviews MAP clients and practitioners, providing often-moving personal accounts of working with MAP. Madeleine was my first MAP practitioner, and you can hear my story in Episode 40.

What a MAP session is like

How the MAP Method works

About Acupuncture

Gentle, safe, and effective, acupuncture has been helping people relax and heal for 3,000 years.

The acupuncture needles I use are very thin–about the breadth of a cat’s whisker. Some people don’t even feel the needles going in; other times, there’s a sensation that quickly dissipates. Many people who “don’t like needles” find that they have no issue with tiny acupuncture pins. 

Acupuncture needles are single use, pre-sterilized, and individually packaged. All acupuncturists in Minnesota complete at least three years of training, pass comprehensive board exams, and are regulated by the medical board.

One of the best parts of acupuncture is that it has virtually no side effects, or good ones like better sleep and energy. Occasionally a small, painless bruise may appear at the site of an acupuncture needle. Compared to the long list of cautions and side effects for the average pharmaceutical drug, acupuncture is very low risk

 In China, a common course of treatment is 10 acupuncture sessions over a two-week period. While that’s not often possible in the U.S. for time and money reasons, most conditions do respond better to frequent treatment in the beginning. For example, if you are willing to try 6 treatments, you will usually get more benefit from doing them over 2-3 weeks rather than several months.

I highly recommend community acupuncture clinics as a way to access frequent treatment in an affordable manner. 

According to Chinese medical theory, acupuncture works by balancing the body’s Qi. Qi can be described as a form of bioenergy that runs along meridians. In this tradition, illness is a manifestation of blocked Qi and the job of acupuncture is to unblock it. 

As yet, there’s not a universally accepted Western medical theory of acupuncture’s mechanism. Some people suggest that it works by stimulating parts of the brain and stimulating the body to release neurotransmitters. While we may not know exactly how it works, acupuncture reliably shifts the nervous system into the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system mode. I believe this is an important part of how acupuncture heals.

We usually start with a check-in, to help me formulate a treatment plan. If it’s our first session together, we’ll chat for a while. If you’re returning for a follow-up visit, it may be relatively brief. I may also gather information using Chinese medicine diagnostic tools, like pulse reading and tongue observation.

After you get comfortable on the table, I’ll spend a few minutes inserting pins in the places that I think will help you the most. Most people get deeply relaxed at this point, and if you are doing an acupuncture-only session, I’ll let you rest with the needles for around 30 minutes. 

If you have questions that aren’t answered here, I highly recommend a short book by acupuncturist Andy Wegman called Why Did You Put That Needle There?

About Me

My acupuncture teachers taught me to develop my heart, hands, and head, in that order. This idea guides my work. My first job is to connect with you and create a safe, non-judgmental, heart-filled space for healing. The technical skills and specialized knowledge are important, too, but all three must work together.

I came to acupuncture and the healing world after a number of years in academia, working as an economics professor. Working in the academy is a privilege, but if it had a slogan, it would be “head, head, and head, in that order.” My body didn’t like this state of affairs, and it started complaining…loudly.

The sciatica and low back pain I started experiencing in my early twenties grew more and more severe, expanding into new bodily territory, and leaving me with debilitating fatigue at the end of most work days. I was eventually diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis, but only after more than a decade of searching for answers and being dismissed by many, many doctors. Like so many people in chronic pain, I searched high and low for solutions. I tried all the diets, ordered all the supplements, read all the self-help books, and joined all the Facebook groups.

I did find diet and lifestyle modifications that helped, but I now believe that calming the nervous system and releasing subconscious sources of stress were key to my healing. The three modalities I practice–acupuncture, MAP, and pain coaching–all do this in different ways. 

Services and Rates

In coaching sessions, I help you “unlearn your pain” using tools and techniques that take advantage of your brain’s neuroplasticity. Your pain is real–it’s not in your head–but we can teach the brain to reduce the pain-danger signal.

The MAP Method can be used to directly address subconscious blocks to health and wellness. In these sessions, your role is relatively passive, and I spend much of the time providing instructions to your subconscious mind. I recommend a series of six sessions for optimal results.

Acupuncture helps shift your nervous system from a fight-or-flight state to rest-and-digest mode, allowing healing to happen naturally. For most conditions, getting acupuncture 2x/week for three weeks is a good course of treatment to start with. Helping you get better is my main goal, so if my private-room rates make this frequency of treatment unaffordable, I highly recommend community acupuncture clinics.

Contact Me / Book a Session

Contact me with questions or to schedule a session.