I have a strong interest in supporting people with chronic pain. My interest in pain management developed from supporting people on the Queensland Opioid Treatment Program for which a large majority had chronic pain issues.
Traditionally, the medical model has dominated chronic pain treatment. That is, prescription medication has been the preferred method for treating pain issues. Over the last few years, psychological treatments have been found to be effective for the management of chronic pain. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is one such intervention that has been heavily researched and evaluated for the treatment of chronic pain.
ACT applied to pain management suggests that while pain hurts, it is the attempting to control pain which makes pain worse which in turn contributes to other issues. For example, some pain will never go away, which can be difficult to accept, yet the battle to make it go away continues. As a result, depression, anxiety or anger may develop. To manage mental health issues, prescription medication may be over used or misused and alcohol and other drugs may be used on top of prescription medication. Consequently, this can impact on your values – your health, to be a great parent, a great work colleague, and a contributing community member etc, or stop you from participating in activities that you once really enjoyed.
In mindfulness – a component of ACT, there is an old saying: “what we resist, persists”. Mindfulness says, “what you accept, transforms”.
ACT does not seek to cure or control pain. The aim of ACT is to help you to obtain effective behaviour patterns guided by what should be dominating your life – your goals and values. The primary aim is accepting that pain, unhealthy thoughts and feelings is inevitably part of life. Allowing to be controlled and consumed by pain and unhealthy thinking and feelings is problematic. The goal of ACT is to change the relationship we have with pain and unhealthy thoughts and feelings, not to change the thoughts, feelings, and pain. The goal is to separate you from struggling with pain, unhealthy thoughts and feelings and to connect with your values and the means to reach your life goals. It is through this process that ACT achieves a reduction in symptoms – as a byproduct and not the goal.
In addition to having completed training in ACT, I am also undergoing professional development in chronic pain management through the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists. It is also important that pain is managed holistically. Thus, psychology is an add-on treatment to medical treatments and physical treatments such as massage, physiotherapy, exercise physiology and other evidence based treatments. The team at Active Living offer holistic treatment all under one roof and are very experienced and dedicated to increasing the quality of your life. Learn more about ACT here: