Welcome back to the Healing Pain Podcast with Amber Richard Bauer, PT, DPT
We are discussing the power of peer support and group learning and chronic pain recovery. My expert guest is Dr. Amber Richard Bauer. Amber is a doctor of Physical Therapy focusing on Chronic Pain Recovery and Pain Education. She’s also a certified instructor for Empowered Relief and a facilitator for Menda Health’s ten-week virtual pain care program. Amber uses elements of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Pain Neuroscience, Education, and Mindfulness paired with her knowledge as a Physical Therapist to help clients recover from chronic pain and return to living meaningful lives.
Amber is a lifelong dancer and a believer in the power of the mind-body connection to heal from chronic pain, trauma, as well as illness. In this episode, you will learn about the benefits of group training for people with chronic pain, why it’s important for people with pain to get support from other people, dealing with a similar condition, and the role of a licensed health professional in facilitating group care.
At the beginning of this episode, we talk about Amber’s journey, both her educational journey from being a dancer to a physical therapist through psychologically informed care and then back as well as her personal experience in living with and overcoming chronic pain, which we know is vitally important. Without further ado, let’s begin and meet Dr. Amber Richard Bauer.
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The Power Of Peer Support And Group Learning In Chronic Pain Recovery With Amber Richard Bauer, PT, DPT
Amber, welcome to this episode of the show. It’s great to have you here.
It’s great to be with you as well.
I have been wanting to talk to you for a while because I knew you do a lot of work around groups, chronic pain recovery groups, group interventions, and peer support with regard to chronic pain. You have a varied background in movement, as well as psychologically informed practice. We are going to talk about all of that in this episode. A good place for us to start is to learn a little more about you and tell us how you became interested, specifically in chronic pain and the recovery of chronic pain.
Thanks for that introduction. I started as a dancer. I was a Dance major in college. Looking back on it, I experienced chronic pain for a long time but after college, I decided I wanted to become a physical therapist because it seemed like something that was in alignment with movement and health. In that process, I came across a lot of people who had chronic pain and, for a long time, didn’t have the tools that I needed to help those folks. It was a patient of mine who experienced chronic pain, who educated me about chronic pain. She turned me on to Greg Lehman’s work. That took me down the rabbit hole. As I was learning about chronic pain, I realized that is what I am experiencing.
As soon as I recovered, then it was like the fire was lit. It became important to me that I help as many people out of this situation as possible, having been through it myself. I started to take some of the classes that you offer, which I have found extremely helpful, the mindfulness-based training and acceptance and commitment therapy. Reading your blog, as well as other podcasts, I started to see this bio-psychosocial framework that we use and how we are good at the biology part. We are getting better at the psychology part and we are still missing a lot of the social pieces.
I’m listening to them. Those podcast episodes gave me the confidence that I needed to go out there and start offering those types of group support systems for people. It has been one of the things that I enjoy. It’s connected me back to my movement in the sense that I started as a group instructor teaching movement. Now I’m a group instructor, helping people learn different types of skillsets. It has been enjoyable.
At this time, where you have this interaction with a patient of yours who has chronic pain, what environments were you working in at that point?
At that point, I was working at an outpatient orthopedic clinic. She was an avid runner who had had this nerve injury that went haywire. That’s how it started.
When you think back now, because obviously, you have a movement background, so you had some natural introduction to the body and what that’s like, and then you go to PT school. You get a Clinical Doctorate with a license in Physical Therapy. I’m sure when you graduated, you felt like, “I know something about pain,” but how does it change when you develop pain and then someone informs you about your own experiences in some way?
I had had many conversations with a lot of physical therapists about the fact that we could recognize that people’s expectations walking into physical therapy had a huge correlation with how that care went in the end. We could recognize that there were psychological pieces at play but there wasn’t the scientific knowledge. I hadn’t been exposed to pain neuroscience education or any of that when I was in school, unfortunately.
I could feel that there was this thing that was happening and I didn’t have a way to explain it. What this patient did for me was give me that missing link. It’s such an interesting full-circle moment of the reality that we do learn from our patients. If we are going to learn anywhere, that’s probably the best ground to learn. The importance of being open-minded to the idea of being wrong or not knowing everything, having that intellectual humility is important to me.
I see so much now how important that is and how it can do harm not to acknowledge that sometimes we may not know the answer or that there is some uncertainty. Being able to manage that is difficult as a clinician but so important for the patient and their care. It was interesting to have experienced that myself as a chronic pain recovered person. I don’t find that I struggle with pain anymore but having been through that experience solidified that.
No one gets it unless you have been through it. It’s not that you can’t help if you haven’t been through it, you certainly can but you have to step into believing the person and what they are telling you. Clinicians struggle to do that, especially when they don’t have that foundational knowledge. It helped me integrate that information quickly because I had the felt experience of it. It fed the fire of like, “I got to help people out there because there are not enough people who know about this information.” I’m always trying to get as many clinicians onboard with the rest of us as possible.
I like the way you framed that, where you said the psychological pieces at play. If you read literature, they say psychological factors or psychological processes, that’s technical evidence-based language. I like that it’s a little more approachable, with psychological pieces at play like, “Here are the pieces of the puzzle.” There are some psychological or emotional pieces to it. There are also physical and bodied pieces to it.
It’s interesting because we talk about duality all the time and chronic pain, the mind versus the body, and trying to bring the mind and body together, which we have not been able to do yet, at least in the United States of America in our medical system. In my personal being, everything is so separate, different professions, skillsets, and “scopes of practice.”
There are a couple of different waves here in your own experience and education, coming in with a background in movement in dance, going through PT school, having your own experience, then starting to learn and take evidence-based courses on those psychological pieces. Sometimes people can become confused and have an identity crisis like, “Who am I? Am I a physical therapist? Am I a psychologist? Am I working in the physical health realm? Am I working in the emotional health realm?”
I’ve seen a lot of therapists struggle with this, both on the psychology side as well as the physical therapy side, because more mental health professionals should bring movement into their practice, which I’m going to start talking about more. How did you start to say, “I have a new identity growing. I’m going to become curious about that identity and start to work with that day by day without feeling constricted by, let’s say, the scope of practice or my own feelings about what I should or shouldn’t be doing as a professional to help someone?” Ultimately, our function is to help someone else.
It was an interesting journey and it’s still a developing one. I started on the movement side and felt comfortable with that. Dance is an expressive form of movement. It is more likely to address some of the psychological pieces as you go through that. Although that’s true of sports as well, maybe to a lesser degree. When I dove into the psychology piece and got my skillset there, I do feel like it’s this ping pong effect of going to one side and then going to the other and how do we bridge the gap because there truly is no separation. One of the things that you said that I have found so helpful is I remember you saying in an episode, “I no longer differentiate between emotional and physical pain.”
The first time that I heard that, it was difficult for me to swallow even with everything that I know about pain and my own experience of pain. Now I’m totally onboard with that. It’s true. We cannot separate them. The way that I have been slowly moving towards finding that middle ground is with mindful movement practices. I take people through a class called stretching for relaxation, which is about moving in ways that enable you to relax in every way, shape, and form, and to find enjoyment in your body, both physically and mentally, and not needing to differentiate between the two, not needing to put that barrier there. We are getting better at that, but we are still, even then, missing that social piece.
That’s where having a group environment can help facilitate that. For myself and my own recovery, it was not until I began returning to those social activities that my recovery turned around. Even when I had the biological pieces figured out and then the psychological pieces, I was like, “I know what I need to do there. If that didn’t take me that next step forward until I started re-engaging with life and activities and people and the things that I loved and cared about.”
Even as physical therapists, if we are trying to bring in the psychology piece, which is super important, we still need to also then add this social piece. There can be some fear around group offerings, especially to people who are experiencing chronic pain, because there’s a lot at play. It can seem a little scary and overwhelming. Hopefully, part of what this discussion will do is help clinicians feel more comfortable starting to engage with that part of the process.
We don’t do enough group activities as physical therapists but what would you say are the major benefits of group functions and group learning for people with pain and obviously for the professionals that are using them?
One of the first ones that come to mind for me is normalizing people’s experiences. It’s not uncommon for somebody with chronic pain to learn about the neuroscience of pain and go, “I’m sure that’s true for other people but my pain is different. Somehow my pain is not this thing that we are talking about.” When you sit in a room with other people who are also experiencing their version of chronic pain and they have the same roadblocks, doubts that you have, and questions that they need to be addressed, it does give you that feeling of, “Maybe I’m not so different. Maybe I’m not the only one who has pain that’s not going to go away.” It helps people get onboard, realizing that their experience is not unique and that the struggles that they are dealing with and the roadblocks that they are experiencing are not unique either.
There are ways to work through them because other people have done it too. That’s important. Another piece of it is that part of what happens with chronic pain is you become isolated and no longer engaging in life and there are no opportunities to give back. People start to feel guilty about being a burden to the people around them. Being in a group where you have an opportunity to help others potentially and have a chance to practice altruism in a way is validating and gives people a sense of purpose and belonging as well.
It can be part of their healing experience. Even having that opportunity to connect and to give back is helpful for folks. There’s the fact that you can get inspired by other people. When you hear about somebody else having a breakthrough, it is hope-giving. One of the best things that I can tell people when they are in doubt is to go listen to some success stories.
We need to hear that that is possible. It helps to motivate people through those difficult times because, as we all know, chronic pain waxes and wanes. When it waxes, it’s difficult for people to stay onboard. We need that support and those reminders to stay motivated, as well as accountability. Most people are not as motivated on their own as they are when they are in a group or they have somebody to help them show up every week to practice the skills, review the information and think about how they are applying it.
Even from an accountability standpoint, engaging with a group is extremely helpful. There’s the idea of interpersonal learning. The way that when you observe other people, you can then self-reflect about, “What this person has shared may apply to me.” Seeing how other people are reacting or interacting may also give you a different perspective on how you respond and interact with other people and things that are happening in your life. There’s a lot of learning that happens from being around other people.
There’s also the fact that you have an opportunity to see a lot of good modeling, especially if you are in a group where there is somebody who’s leading that group in a supportive way, whether you observe the leader or the other participants and see how they are responding to pain. It can lead you to change your response because you are modeling a different response. Having that example can be helpful for figuring out, “How do I do that for myself.” You have the idea of group cohesiveness. Again, we’ve talked about how chronic pain is extremely isolating.
A group can become like a family. It’s a source of support. It’s an opportunity potentially to rewrite some stories that we may have internally. It gives us an experience of trust. A lot of times, people’s trust has been worn down by experiences of not being heard and understood. Being with other people who you trust to hear your truth is healing in and of itself, and then having that sense of belonging.
The acceptance that comes from being with other people who understand and the support that they can provide that other people may not have the skills to provide. We get to both practice receiving and giving compassion and empathy. That’s extremely healing from that social piece, the bio-psycho-social piece. You then have developing social skills. When you have been isolated for a long time, it may be even difficult to make small talk with people or to feel comfortable enough to share some of those deeper truths.
The groups can facilitate returning to social interaction and potentially reintegrating with the relationships that are important in your life. It gives you an opportunity to practice taking different perspectives, as well as asking for help and the give and take that is real in all relationships. It can be a training ground for reintegrating with those social aspects.
There’s also the opportunity to get a lot of ideas, different ideas from different people, potentially even advice if it’s appropriate, as well as giving it that give and take that’s so important to human behavior and human health. There’s also the piece of you can have corrective family experiences. In groups, there may be interpersonal patterns that can tie back to your family of origin. Potentially, there’s somebody in the group that reminds you of your mom, your dad or this other figure that was in your life.
It’s not uncommon for people with chronic pain to have experienced childhood trauma or early developmental trauma. Potentially, working within a group can offer the opportunity to have a different experience, a corrective experience, even from that perspective, which is interesting. Again, having other people in the group even experience something similar and being able to validate your own experience of that.
There’s catharsis. The fact that often people are not able to share some of those deep truths with the people that are closest to them but that’s difficult for them, they may be able to do that in a group of people that feels like they are understood and it feels like a safe space to allow emotional expression, which is difficult for many people. That relief that comes from sharing painful emotions, reactions to pain, and that nervous system activation in a safe environment so that you can see it is okay to express these things. You have an opportunity to receive support and empathy at that moment and to regulate.
That’s a huge piece of it as well. Finally, the last one I will mention is these existential factors. Pain is a huge thing. It can get to a place where we start to question the meaning of our existence. That can be part of the struggle. Talking about that in a group gives you an opportunity to share your perspective and hear a lot of different perspectives on suffering and how we can find meaning in those experiences. There are many pieces that can be addressed in a social setting that is quite different than if you are working one-on-one with somebody or independently on your own. I’m sure that there are more but that gives the scope of how it can touch on a lot of different pieces.
If everyone is reading, Amber gave a nice evidence-based list of how group learning and group classes, and other types of environments help people. She gave it from the perspective of not the psychological piece but the social aspect. To be honest with you, as you talk, I’m like, “No one screens for this.” Most people don’t have a tool in practice where they are screening for the social pieces of it. Most professionals have an idea of loneliness and social isolation but not to the depth that you went into.
You provided a nice list if people are considering developing a group and they need to speak to a coworker or a supervisor about its benefits of it. Thank you for that. Everything they have is right there. As you are talking about this group dynamic, a lot of what you’ve mentioned has to do with peers and peer support. In that social aspect, if you whittle it down, it’s that peer. Sometimes the peer is one-on-one. Sometimes the peer is more than one. Why is it important for someone living with chronic pain to have support from another person who’s living with the same or a similar condition?
One of the most frustrating experiences for somebody with pain is that the people who are closest to them are often not experiencing chronic pain. It is difficult for people to know how to provide support unless they have been trained to do so. They often have the experience of asking for support and validation and then receiving something different.
The person trying to support may have the best of intentions but it doesn’t always end up having the impact that they are hoping for. That experience of trying to open up and then having it be invalidated in some way can be harmful. It can cause people to contract in on themselves. A person who has experienced the thing that you are experiencing is not going to invalidate your experience.
They can understand what it is that you are going through. They are going to understand the frustrations, the anger that comes with it, the sadness, the fear, all of those pieces. They are going to be able to do that with less judgment. There’s always judgment because that’s part of the mind but in a different way than somebody who’s never experienced chronic pain and doesn’t understand the way that it touches every aspect of your life.
A lot of people do not know how to provide support. I find that if you have the lived experience, it helps you have that empathy so that you can be there in a way that’s different than those who have not. That’s a big piece of it. The other piece is that having those negative experiences can start to work on our social signals.
There’s this feeling that people have with chronic pain that no one understands me or that I don’t belong anymore. That’s a common thought pattern. “No one understands this. No one gets me. No one understands what I’m going through.” Being surrounded by other people who do know what you are going through, who in their own flavor are experiencing the thing that you are experiencing helps to reduce that feeling of isolation and separation from the rest of life and social groups. Again, it adds back to that social component but it gets at this feeling of, “No one understands me,” which can be erased by realizing, “There are people who understand me. I do still belong.” That’s the biggest piece that I think of.
There are practitioners reading and are starting to get excited. They are saying, “I have been treating patients one-on-one in a one-on-one environment for years. I’ve never run a group. I’ve never tried to run a group but I had this idea to run a group, whether it’s a group movement class, a group pain education class, group mindfulness or a group ACT class,” which many professionals are doing in our community. What are some of the challenging aspects for the facilitator, which is us, the professional, in starting to develop and deliver these group-type interventions?
One of the most challenging parts is learning to manage our own nervous system activation because when we are sitting with other people who are in struggle, it does activate us. For me personally, the ACT course was hugely helpful because, of course, whenever I’m exposing anybody to an ACT concept, I am practicing it simultaneously. It’s helpful.
If anybody is feeling a little scared of that piece, I would recommend an ACT training. I found it hugely helpful. The biggest piece for me is I am observing myself as I’m sitting with people. When I noticed myself getting activated, then I modeled, “I’m noticing as I’m hearing you speak about that, that is hard. Even I can notice myself getting activated by that and feeling upset. Let me take a deep breath and let’s take a moment to nurture that and then move forward.”
There’s both a piece of noticing when you are getting activated but then using that as an opportunity to show people, “You are getting activated. I am too. Let’s now learn how to regulate that.” It doesn’t need to be something that we are afraid of but I can totally understand before I walk into doing these groups. That was a concern for myself as well.
There’s the other piece that some people do need individual attention for their emotions and life experiences. It’s totally onboard and recommended for a lot of people to have a therapist that they can talk to in detail about those personal life experiences that are unique to them versus things that are going to benefit the group.
The other piece of being a good facilitator in my mind is to know how to navigate, setting that boundary of, “I’m sure we could talk about a lot of this for a long time but our time will be better spent maybe practicing skills.” That would be a great thing to work with a therapist on. Being comfortable referring to therapists and mental health providers so that you aren’t trying to take on more than what is in your “scope of practice.” You are noticing where those boundaries are, where this is a personal thing that somebody needs to deep dive into, and being comfortable setting that boundary and then referring them to the person that’s going to help them with that piece.
What are the essential components that you are using? I know you teach a couple of different types of groups. You mentioned that you have some ACT skills that you rely on, along with that mindfulness skills? What other types of skills do you rely on as a professional?
The third piece that I’ve integrated more is pulling on a little bit of internal family systems and leaning into parts work. I found that helpful.
Once you have a mindfulness base for your education, you can venture into parts work. It makes a lot of sense for people living with chronic pain. For those who study ACT, when you look at self as context, there are some good overlaps there as well.
The other piece is journaling, using that as a therapeutic modality and getting people to see that writing about something is different than thinking about it. It’s different. It can create a lot of distance separation between those sticky, problematic thoughts and your true self or those emotions that feel overwhelming and your true self that’s able to hold all of it. Those are the other pieces that I pull in. Mindful movement, I try to have a little bit of movement pulled into that. It’s not just talking. We are trying to bridge that gap a little bit.
For people with pain or other health conditions, what are the barriers for them when they are thinking about, “This sounds interesting,” but there’s always about that comes in for people when they are talking. When we talk about barriers, what are the barriers for them to engaging in a group activity or group therapy?
One of the barriers is that many people are not comfortable being vulnerable and engaging with their own emotions, let alone displaying that in front of other people. I find that when people do find that willingness to express emotions, especially in front of other people, that is extremely cathartic. It’s normal to have that reticence.
It’s common, especially if you’ve never had therapy or have never been exposed to some of these skills. It can feel a little bit scary. A lot of people will shy away because that is scary for them. That ties into potentially they’ve had past interpersonal trauma. They’ve had experiences where they thought it was a safe space and then it turns out it wasn’t. Now they are a little bit gun shy to try that again.
I can see that standing in the way for some folks. There’s the issue of accessibility, whether that’s physical or financial. My group is held online, which is hopefully reducing the barrier a little bit but even that is one of the barriers. The last one that I can think of is a lack of belief in the benefits of group programs. Why I was interested in having this conversation is that we come from a hierarchical mindset as a society.
There’s this concept that one-on-one work is somehow better and has more value. It’s more beneficial than working with a group. Hopefully, what part of this show does is show like that’s not true, that it’s a different type of care that you are receiving that has a lot of value but it’s not necessarily better than a group program and that there are a lot of things that are afforded to you in a group program that you can’t get out of working one-on-one with somebody.
A lot of healing, indigenous and ancient forms of healing, happen in group environments. In certain cultures around the world, it still happens like that. In our sterile medical system, it’s fallen to the wayside a lot. For those who have been practicing as long as I can in physical therapy, we used to have more group classes and opportunities and then billing changed over the course of many years, which has changed the way we practice.
Sometimes billing can impact what we “should be doing.” It is interesting to think about going to church and other religious functions can be cathartic and healing for people and bringing some of those principles into what we do as professionals. If someone is reading this and they have chronic pain and are interested in finding a group or exploring a group, what are some of the things that they should look for in a chronic pain group format?
One of the big things to look at is who are the facilitators, who are going to be hosting the program, and what are their qualifications. Do they have the necessary training to be able to hold that space? Making sure that they do have some psychological training of some kind is important. The second is maybe asking, “What are the group norms? What is the structure of this group?”
“What are the agreed-upon rules before entering into that group so that the group is going to be on track, that there are certain expectations and boundaries that have been set and you know exactly what your path is going to look like moving through that group?” In a good and potentially negative way, there are a lot of providers that are trying to provide support for people with chronic pain who have many different qualifications.
Sometimes, as somebody with chronic pain, I’m not certain that those people have the necessary skills to be able to create a safe space. It comes down to, for a group to be successful and helpful to the person, it needs to feel like a safe space. To do that, you need to have a facilitator who understands psychology. That has some clearly set boundaries and rules and expectations so that everybody is on the same page and you can feel safe to have a breakdown if you need to or to share a breakthrough. Those are the things that come to mind that are the most important. Although I’m sure that there are others, it’s still quite a great answer, at the end of the day.
To clarify, when you were saying the facilitator should have a grasp of psychology, you are not necessarily saying that someone has to be a psychologist or have a license in mental health but there are other health professionals, PTs, OTs, physicians, nurses who also use principles of psychology to deliver group type interventions and other care.
How would you like to see our profession, the profession of physical therapy, start to use the group format more? I would say it’s not mainstream in what we do, although COVID and the pandemic did change that somewhat because we are a lot more online than we used to be, which means we are using our communication and other psychological informed skills a lot more than we used to be. There’s an opportunity now for groups and people that didn’t want to come into a clinic setting, we can access them in an online format in a group setting. More people are doing alternative types of treatment for chronic pain. Where would you like to see our peers take this?
One of the things that I observe, and I’m not sure if it’s exactly related to this question but it’s adjacent to it, is that there are so many programs and online offerings and in-person offerings for people who are healthy and fit to get a social support system around movement and exercise. I don’t see that for people who are not already fit why. We, as physical therapists in particular, are uniquely placed to be able to help people when they are not at their peak physical functioning.
Maybe they are struggling or even bed-bound and they need those steps to be able to get to a place where they can engage with a group of other people. Why aren’t we developing some of those online programs where you can meet with a group of people who have the same condition and you go through a group exercise together? You do a little bit of nervous system regulation at the end and you have a little chat about how that went and what your goals are for the week and how you are doing.
There are many opportunities that have opened up as a result of things moving online, especially for people who are having chronic pain or chronic illness. It’s not easy for them to get outside of the door and go to a fitness studio or, for that matter, a physical therapy clinic or whatever that might be. Each of us that has moved into the field of physical therapy comes from a love of the human body and excitement about what it means to be able to move and engage with life. Each of us has a slightly different take on that. I would encourage each person to think, “What is it that lights me up that I enjoy and love to do? How can I share that with other people?”
We can all be a little bit more creative. I don’t think we are encouraged to be creative as part of our training. It’s important to tap into that creativity because that’s where the magic happens, where new things become available, and that can change the game for folks out there. In a clinic setting, I see it as being difficult only because the existing structures are not supportive of innovation. That’s at least, in my experience, I had to leave the clinic that I was working at and start my own thing to be able to do this in a way that felt right for me. It’s difficult for me to think about doing that in a clinic environment but moving it online is the easiest path forward.
You can start offering it now and see who shows up, whether you love to dance, walk, or you like to do Pilates or do deep breathing or whatever it might be. We each have our flavor that we can bring to that. Why not make use of this online space so that it’s as accessible as possible? We provide more opportunities for people to find something that resonates with them. I’m not sure if I totally answered your question but hopefully, there was something in there that was helpful.
It’s a great answer. You’ve touched on a lot of important topics. We’ve started to work on some of those topics here at the Integrative Pain Science Institute through our Pain Innovator Project, helping support professionals like yourself in venturing outside the box by moving away from the clinic environment in that we’ve always worked in the one-on-one insurance-based.
There are two codes you are billing, insurance and manual therapy and that’s it. That’s all you do. We are blowing all that up. It’s great to see it and know you are doing it as well because we need so much more of this across the nation and the globe. Amber, thanks so much for being here and chatting with us on the power of peer support, group learning, and chronic pain recovery. Please let our readers know how they can learn more about you and follow your work.
Probably the easiest place to find out what I’m doing is to go to my website, which is PTMindfully.com. I do offer the Empowered Relief workshop. That’s Stanford’s program. I am also a facilitator for mental health. They do ten-week chronic pain recovery Bootcamps. I love that group. They are doing excellent work. I recommend checking that out. I have my own chronic pain ongoing support program for clients that I work with, although I invite anybody to join if they would like. My website is probably the best place to find me. Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about this. It was exciting for me. I appreciate all of your work.
Make sure you check out Amber on her website at PTMindfully.com. I want to thank Amber for joining us. If you read this episode and you enjoyed it, make sure to take a screenshot with your phone and you can tag Amber and myself on Instagram. You can find me @DrJoeTatta. We will make sure to tag you back. Thanks for being here and we will see you next episode.
About Amber Richard Bauer
Amber is a Doctor of Physical Therapy focusing on chronic pain recovery and pain neuroscience education. She is also a certified instructor for Empowered Relief through Stanford University and a facilitator for Menda Health’s 10-week virtual pain care program. Amber uses elements of ACT, CBT, PNE, and mindfulness, paired with her knowledge as a physical therapist, to help clients recover from chronic pain and return to living meaningful lives. Amber is a lifelong dancer and a believer in the power of mind-body practices to heal from pain, trauma, and illness.