Constant pain with rare to no abatement, combined with lack of tools for being in relationship to pain, will result in a wide range of symptoms, and due to the long term nature of chronic pain, may result in feelings of isolation and abandonment.
In addition to the wide variety of physical symptoms, chronic pain sufferers may also have high levels of:
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of interest
Loss of Self-worth
Loss of financial resources
Stress from lifestyle changes
Symptoms of psychological trauma
If you suffer from chronic pain and you’ve made your way here, you might be afraid someone will tell you “It’s all in your head.” Physical pain isn’t psychological, it is physical and can be witnessed in your brain’s somatosensory cortex through MRIs. Yet, if you are here, just knowing your pain is physiological hasn’t helped you to handle the psychological side effects of pain.
And, you may have adapted to the pain by using muscular bracing and body dissociation as a defense against the pain. Muscular bracing can cause extreme discomfort by cementing muscular tightness. Body dissociation cuts you off from the remaining good sensations in your body as well as blocking helpful information about what your body needs and wants. Turning to medication as the sole response to pain has a host of side effects, including psychological addiction.
Individual counseling provides a safe place to explore the effects pain is having on all the areas of your life and offers help to construct positive strategies to keep you connected to yourself and to all the significant others in your life.
The course of therapy for chronic pain begins with establishing a relationship in which you feel safe to be you, pain and all. Then, an assessment of your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in relationship to your pain is undertaken. A treatment plan is agreed upon, which involves small, gradual changes made slowly in a way your body can adapt to with ease. If agreed, I will lead you in mind/body treatments such as meditation, mindfulness and extraordinarily gentle movement.
Treatment is considered successful not if the pain goes away, but if you achieve a full toolbox of ways to handle your situation.
At the termination of your therapy, your toolbox will include:
A significant reduction in depression or anxiety
You will know the relaxation response for breaking the cycle of tension that accompanies pain and be aware of all your pain triggers
You will have met and challenged the negative beliefs and cognitive distortions you have
You will have identified and resolved any factors contributing or worsening your pain, such as a traumatic history of sexual or physical abuse
You can manage the stressors associated with chronic pain
You can decrease your reliance on pain medications
You will be aware of all your pain triggers
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