Maria is a Chronic Pain Recovery Coach in private practice who asks the question of whether pain is a direct result of our belief systems, our thought processes through lack of knowledge, our lifestyles, our behaviours, and our emotions.

As a therapist using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy techniques I could see how this could fit directly into my work as this is a very similar theoretical approach, challenging thought processes via increasing knowledge and understanding of how the mind and body are connected, in this case, resulting in pain.

The evening’s presentation began with a look at what pain is and how it protects us from threatening situations, current or potential and offers us a learning experience in order to prevent us from similar harm in future.

Pain is a normal response to injury but, as the injury heals, the pain should naturally reduce. When this does not occur, and when pain appears to, for instance, remain the same, recur over time, move around, be inconsistent with injury, or respond to particular triggers (after a period of 3 months), this becomes classed as a ’long – term pain’ suggesting something cognitive rather than
physical. These are indications that symptoms may be stress induced. Conditions such as infection, cancer, and degenerative diseases are not included here.

Maria gave several examples of when pain can be directly related to a particular activity that would not be able to produce an injury and, upon examining the activity could find alternative reasoning for experiencing pain which immediately ceased upon the client understanding the cognitive process.

Maria discussed the varying reasons some people suffer more pain than others from similar injuries, from past traumatic events/childhood experiences to depression and stress, again suggesting a personal reaction rather than a response directly related to, for example, severity of injury.

The placebo effect has been witnessed in patients undergoing pain treatment and Maria stated that morphine has no more of an impact than paracetamol. We looked then at why our bodies continue to produce a pain response when we are no longer in danger and this is where the therapy begins, linking our emotional response to the pain to previous experiences. Put simply, if we can
recognise the emotion, we can acknowledge it, express it, and resolve it, eliminating any unhealthy behaviours and beliefs will in turn eliminate the physical feeling of pain.

This led onto the Structured Recovery Approach within which clients are supported to:

  • Understand the cause
  • Identify and resolve past trauma
  • Deal with current stresses
  • Identify personality traits and eliminate self imposed pressures
  • Identify habits and make behaviour changes

There are many techniques that can be used in this process including the use of timelines, journals, tapping, EFT, havening, and matrix re – imprinting.

This was an intriguing evening that had me come away with a desire to look into the topic in more detail.

For your own reference, more information can be found at:

Recommended reading includes:

  • Georgie Oldfield — Chronic Pain — Your Key to Recovery
  • John Sarno — Healing Back Pain — The Mindbody Prescription
  • Howard Schubiner — Unlearn your Pain

1 day practitioner courses are available across the country, and a Chronic Pain conference is due to take place 15th October 2017 at The Royal Society of Medicine in London for anyone interested in attending.

Also related and maybe of interest is an article in Therapy Today, Feb 17 by Judith Maizels and Fiona Adamson on Chronic Pain – A Neurosomatic Approach, pgs 22-26

Tracy McCadden