Psychotherapy & Couples Therapy
Adolescent & Family Therapy
Trauma Treatment

Catherine Lockwood, MFT
...for a happier life and more fulfilling relationships

Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA 90049

(310) 488-5292

Psychotherapy, Couples Counseling, Brentwood, Los Angeles

TMS: Tension Mysositis Syndrome


Can ISTDP really help relieve and resolve Tension Mysotitis Syndrome or TMS?

Yes, it definitely can.

Intense Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy – ISTDP – is evidence-based, and research has shown it to be a uniquely effective treatment for a broad spectrum of medically unexplained disorders such the diagnosis of Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). This can include such physical symptoms as tension or migraine headaches, digestive/ GI tract problems, neck, shoulder, body and back pain, fibromyalgia, psychophysiological disorders (PPD), medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS), medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), and other health issues.

Oftentimes depression, anxiety, emotional problems,self-defeating behaviors, undeserved guilt, shame, repetitive negative thoughts, self-sabotage, underperformance, distractibility, and other emotional and relational problems accompany physical body problems. ISTDP can be effective helping heal both body and psyche, and often results in improved life satisfaction, relationships and performance.

Have you personally helped people with TMS?

Yes, absolutely.  The results can be quite amazing.  Most people experience some positive benefits after one 90-minute session – and more benefits after several sessions.

Can you give an example of a TMS patient you’ve helped with ISTDP?

Yes.  I’ve changed details in this account to ensure complete confidentiality:

Recently I helped a man who suffered from chronic intense body pain and dysfunction 24/7  for almost 3 years, as well as intermittant symptoms before that. He had been in a wheel chair at times, and was struggling to accomplish ADL (basic activities of daily living).  His doctors were mystified about the cause. Nothing seemed to help. This man did considerable online reading and research and decided to consult a physician familiar with TMS. He had to travel some distance, but it was well worth it to him, because the doctor confirmed his suspicions that he indeed had TMS. This patient educated himself about treatment with ISTDP psychotherapy and was highly motivated to try it when he contacted me.

After our very first 90-minute session, he experienced significant relief. After 5 sessions, he reported his symptoms and body were much improved. Through the therapy and accompanying homework exercises, he has trained himself to pay close attention to his body and emotions. Most of the time he experiences no pain. However if a pain just barely starts to develop, right away, before it gets worse, he notices it and uses strategies he’s learned in therapy and practiced on his own, to contain it. Now he can do things he so longed to do, such as carrying his toddler, taking walks with his family, playing with his children and planning extensive summer vacation travel.  In the fall he wants to continue with ISTDP therapy to address additional trauma issues and consolidate the gains he has made.

How does ISTDP work?

You can read about it on this very website on a link to the left under:

ISTDP FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions About Intenseve Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy

ISTDP: A Brief Introduction to Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy

What is TMS?

Tension myositis syndrome (TMS) was the name John E. Sarno gave to conditions characterized by psychogenic musculoskeletal and nerve symptoms. Psychogenic diseases are physical illnesses that are not medically explained, but stem from emotional or mental stresses. Back pain is frequently mentioned, but symptoms can occur in all parts of the body. The TMS diagnosis has not been commonly accepted by the mainstream medical community, however prominent recovered patients have received national attention in the media. ISTDP has gained increasingly greater recognition in the world medical community for the successful treatment of psychogenic symptoms and disorders.

What if I’m too ill to travel to your office?

I recommend treatment in my Los Angeles office, or in the office of an ISTDP practitioner in your area, as your best choice.  As a practice, I do not offer internet video therapy.  However, if you live far from any local ISTDP therapist and are unable to travel, internet video therapy can be fruitful.  That was the case with the man described above, so we worked via internet video therapy.

More resources:

TMS Help Forum:

TMS Wiki:

To share with your physician: 

  • I would be happy to talk with your physician personally about ISTDP treatment for unexplained medical symptoms and conditions.  I am very passionate about sharing  it with other professionals.

Books and Kindle:

“Unlearn Your Pain,” Howard Schubiner, 2012:

Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want, Ronald J. Fredrick, 2009. 

Evidence-based research:

Let me know if you have questions or wish to discuss.

Catherine Lockwood LMFT

Brentwood Village, Los Angeles, California


Written by Catherine Lockwood

March 21st, 2015 at 5:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized