The following is my personal account about the Autonomic Healing Activation (AHA) session I underwent at InnerWorkings with Thomas Pals.
I was referred to Tom Pals for AHA by a co-worker who relayed his own positive, effective experience with the therapy. Prior to my session, I considered myself to be under a moderate amount of stress—predominantly from work-related stressors—but also, due to an underlying history of prior stressors and traumas to include: abandonment by birth my parents, the deaths of both adoptive parents, a military combat deployment in Iraq, and a traumatic brain injury.
Before trying AHA, I received psychotherapy (CBT) from the Department of Veterans Affairs Readjustment Counseling Service to deal with symptoms related to my combat-related PTSD diagnosis. Although CBT did help me process my prior traumas cognitively, and provided relief from many of my psychological symptoms, I still experienced symptoms for which psychotherapy was not effective. My most significant and impairing pre-AHA symptoms included impulsive emotional outbursts, difficulty sleeping, bruxism, physical tenseness, autonomic dysregulation (tremors, body temperature), and “brain fog.”
After completing one session of AHA, I experienced an immediate sense of mental clarity and calmness. In the three weeks since the session, I have noticed a significant improvement in all of my pre-AHA symptoms. I have been better able to control my emotions, my sleep quality has improved, and it seems my autonomic system has returned to normal state. Most notably, my ability to handle the day-to-day stresses related to my job, family, and social interactions has been greatly improved.
I can say with confidence that AHA was very successful for me. I believe the combination of traditional, evidence-based modalities and AHA can be very effective in improving both psychological and physiological outcomes in others. I am also hopeful that the Department of Veterans Affairs will consider incorporating AHA as a treatment option for veterans with combat-related mental health issues.
Where CBT helped me with the cognitive processes behind my thoughts, AHA reset my “fight or flight” mechanisms which were largely responsible for my lingering symptoms. I would recommend AHA to anyone dealing with any degree of stress and shall remain ever grateful to Tom for his compassionate and educational guidance through the process.