Psychotherapy for Chronic Pain Sufferers

tinker-logo-w-shadowThe Value of Psychotherapy for Chronic Pain Sufferers

Gail-Elaine Tinker specializes in Trauma and Chronic Pain!

Pain is a psychological experience, as well as physical. Chronic pain affects in excess of 50 million Americans and more than $70 billion annually in healthcare costs and lost productivity. In addition to the suffering of the afflicted, and the cost to society, there is an enormous emotional suffering and impact on the family which is often left unaddressed.

There are legitimate psychological disorders associated with pain, namely anxiety and depression. Approximately 30% of pain sufferers report depression. Other disorders may include grief, insomnia, addiction, and panic disorder. There are biochemical and behavioral explanations behind these diagnoses; however, it is the impact of psycho-social stressors which bring many people to need therapy and support. The brain does not distinguish between psychological or bodily injury – ‘pain is pain’ according to the brain.

  • Firstly, chronic pain, illness, and accidents add to psychological issues which were present previously. This means, if you were struggling with emotions, self-esteem, and relationships before your accident, the likelihood of those improving spontaneously is low.
  • Illness and medical bills were cited for 50% of the 2 million personal bankruptcies in the U.S. last year, and financial stress is on the rise. The process of filing for worker’s compensation, disability, and utilizing insurance is vastly overcomplicated and stressful.
  • Chronic pain impacts family, friendship, and work relationships. Chronic pain does not make allowance for social gatherings, family needs, sex or work. Workers struggling with chronic pain often experience stress.
  • Many doctors do not know how to support their chronic pain patients. Sometimes this leads to misdiagnosis or delay in proper treatment. Often, many doctor visits, tests, and treatments are required to assist chronic pain. This experience can add to the initial frustration and trauma.
  • Suicide attempts and completions are prevalent in the injured and chronic pain sufferers. Hopelessness, reckless behavior, and addiction can facilitate such mindsets. Recognizing and treating thought of suicide needs to be handled by a doctor or therapist.
  • Family and close friends of pain sufferers often have feelings to resolve around their loved one’s chronic condition. Caregivers are prone to depression, insomnia, and anxiety, as well as, their own illness and stress due to over-loaded schedules.
  • Lastly, there is often trauma and grief surrounding the injury or disease itself, requiring therapeutic processing. Post Traumatic Stress is not a only a soldier’s disorder; regular folks trying to cope with the life changes surrounding an injury, disease, or chronic pain can struggle with reactions as diverse as emotional numbing to episodes of rage.

Psychotherapy, Life Coaching, and Support Groups are designed to assist pain sufferers in dealing with the myriad of problems stemming from social and internal pressures. Many patients hesitate to utilize the support of a therapist for fear of gaining a psychological diagnosis or ‘having to discuss my childhood.’ These concerns are realistic; however, with a professional experienced in chronic pain treatment, one may determine treatment to specific needs. The benefit of therapy are too numerous to allow fears to rule your decision.

Psychotherapy can be a key tool in your Wellness Toolbox to facilitate a better life while managing chronic pain. Therapy is an ideal situation to learn relaxation techniques, assertiveness, mid/body awareness, anxiety reduction, enhanced communication skills, and effective problem solving.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Gail-Elaine Tinker, M.S. at 610-216-4319.