Brief Therapy for Pain
Pain can be a very daunting problem. In the normal course of events, pain forces us to attend to a physical problem that needs our attention and we have to do something to resolve it. Once we have done what we can and should do, the body heals and the pain goes away. When the pain persists despite medical treatment, because its source is elusive or conventional treatments are ineffective, and endures in an individual for weeks, months, or longer, it can be one of the most difficult and complex challenges to live with and to treat. For the medical doctor, pain is primarily a symptom; it accompanies disease or injury, and the primary focus is generally not its removal but the treatment of the disease or injury causing the pain. For the patient, pain is often as primary a problem as any tissue damage from which it may arise especially if there is no treatment relief.
The psychological management of pain has been around as long as humans have. Many of our mothers have kissed the boo boo and taken away the pain. When our modern drugs or other methods were not available on the battlefield during the World Wars, talk therapy for pain management was used and found to be effective. The years following each major war showed a resurgence of research in what was called hypnosis, because of the positive effects evidenced on the battlefields. Even today, scientific research with hypnosis is used with pain and healing. Currently, even with drugs and surgery, for many people pain problems persist. But there is hope. We now know techniques like relaxation, guided meditation and active guided meditation brings great relief to help these cases.
When a patient’s pain becomes chronic, there is considerable stress for the patient resulting in anxiety and depression. Often this anxiety and depression triggers a vicious circle, which actually increases the patient’s perception of pain. Pain involves the interpretation of the sensations as "painful” and an evaluation of the pain as creating “suffering.” Thus, physical discomfort may be altered, either aggravated or alleviated by psychological (perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral) factors. Therefore pain is a psycho-physiological phenomenon. Unfortunately, many doctors will tell their patients that their pain is just in their head, making the patients feel guilty, crazy and in pain.
Pain Management and Mental Techniques
With pain patients, when everything that can be done, should be done, and has been done, by the medical community, Dr. Albina uses various cognitive tools for pain reduction. After an initial evaluation, Dr. Albina may encourage some of her patients to take her pain seminar, which teaches altering consciousness to reduce pain. Being with other people experiencing pain they find out they're not alone, crazy, weak or bad. Dr. Albina teaches the following psychological skills in her seminars: breathing, physical relaxation, visualization, distraction, self-hypnosis, changing irrational thoughts and dealing with your emotions surrounding your pain.
For other patients, after some brief therapy, she may create an active guided meditation recording tailored to take away their pain.
For some patients the pain is heavily correlated with some emotional issue. Dr. Albina targets her brief psychotherapy to ameliorate their emotional problems, so that their perception of the physical pain diminishes or is even eliminated.