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Chronic Pain

Pain Management & Chronic Illness

Psychologists tend to see three types of clients for pain management.

The first group includes those individuals who have a chronic medical condition, such as migraine or arthritis, or who have had an injury which has left them with a legacy of pain. Often, such individuals feel that they have no choice other than suffering in silence or using heavy painkillers, with their side effects and the risk of addiction. There is, however, a third option. Using a variety of techniques, psychologists can teach these clients to harness the power of their own minds to reduce the perception of pain. Through counseling, psychologists can also help individuals to reduce the negative impact that their medical condition has on their lives and their relationships.

The second group includes those individuals who have a medical condition that appears to be caused by, or made worse by, stress, trauma, or other psychological factors. These include fibromyalgia, migraine, multiple schlerosis, Crohn's disease, and many other conditions. In addition to teaching strategies for pain management, psychologists will work with these clients to identify the role that psychological factors play in maintaining or exacerbating their condition. Once they are identified, therapist and client work together to address underlying issues and to make needed changes in thinking patterns, lifestyle, or relationships.

The third group is made up of people who have symptoms for which no medical explanation has been found. These individuals often find their way to psychologists' offices through their physicians who, having conducted a thorough medical work up and found nothing, suspect that the cause may be psychological. Pain does have a number of important unconscious functions. Sometimes, pain distracts us from, or allows us to, avoid situations or demands that are aversive. Sometimes, pain serves as a way to meet needs for attention or nurturing. And, sometimes, pain serves as a signal that something in our emotional life is wrong and we had better pay attention to it. Psychologists work with these clients to clarify the role and effect that pain plays in the individual's life and to identify underlying issues that the pain may be signaling. Given this information, therapist and client work together to find solutions and develop healthier strategies for coping.

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The partners at Mission Bridge Psychological Associates provide a comprehensive range of psychological services to individuals, couples, adolescents, and families. Together, we bring over 90 years of experience to our clients. Our collaboration both within our partnership and with other community resources increases the depth, range, and quality of our services.
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