Toward Vitality: Chronic Pain Treatment

Toward Vitality: Chronic Pain Treatment

How Counselling Therapy can Help Manage Chronic Pain

It may seem odd to get counselling for chronic pain management. Read on to find out why it may be a good idea to consider skilled counselling for pain management.

Has chronic pain taken your life away?

Are you noticing that you are slower, stiffer and more limited in your lifestyle, and it is not just age that is slowing you down?

It can feel awful and isolating to notice that pain is taking more and more of your freedom. Maybe the pain is from an accident or injury or something that has increased slowly over the years. Either way is take a toll on your zest for life, it can isolate you from friends and family, and it can be depressing.

Everyone experiences pain from time to time. Chronic pain is when that pain is not an event that comes to and end, but the pain continues. Perhaps with ebbs and flows, but the pain is more or less a new reality in your life – like an unwanted house guest!

Certainly, when a person experiences chronic pain, the first thing to do is bring it to one’s physician so it can be medically assessed, monitored and managed. As Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. says, “Pain is like the oil light on your body’s dashboard telling you that something desperately needs attention,” Dr. Teitelbaum, M.D., is the medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers. So, it just makes sense to bring the pain to the attention of one’s physician to identify what is causing the pain and see what can be done to manage it medically.

What is the Role of Counselling in Chronic Pain Managment?

Fortunately, there are often more pathways to successfully manage chronic pain. The American Chronic Pain Association states that alternative therapies often lessen the need for medications and other more invasive procedures. Alternative therapies moderate exercise, progressive relaxation and guided imagery, acupuncture and acupressure, biofeedback and EMDR, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Some of these therapies are helping the body to send less pain signals to the brain, where pain is registered. Others of these therapies work through the mind itself to change the way the pain signal arriving from the body is processed in the brain. These counselling therapies can be very helpful alongside medical management of chronic pain. This article will address some of these alternate therapies for pain management.

These forms of chronic pain management  also allow people to take a more active role in pain management.


Regular exercise and physical therapy are usually part of any pain management plan.

It is well established that light to moderate exercise is critical in the relief of pain. A large percentage of pain comes from tight muscles. These may be triggered by overuse, inflammation, or other conditions.

Regular exercise is important for treating chronic pain because it helps:

  • strengthen muscles
  • increase joint mobility
  • improve sleep
  • release endorphins
  • reduce overall pain


Relaxation techniques are often recommended as part of a treatment plan. You may find some of the information and approaches related to anxiety management can be very helpful.They help to reduce stress and decrease muscle tension. Relaxation techniques include:

  • meditation
  • massage
  • yoga

Some people find Yoga also has other benefits for chronic pain. It can help strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.

Acupuncture and acupressure

Acupuncture and acupressure are types of traditional Chinese medicine. They relieve pain by manipulating key points of the body. This prompts the body to release endorphins which can block messages of pain from being delivered to the brain.

The late Dr. John Sarno spent his career treating chronic back pain and claims to have brought relief to many, many people without expensive, invasive surgery. Briefly, Dr. Sarno maintained that some cases of chronic pain are best understood in terms of an interaction between the mind and body creating real, genuine pain symptoms. Particularly, that the brain is attempting to be helpful by distracting the person from painful and distressing emotions by generating back pain. Again, the pain is real. But the pain is psychogenetic. You can read a popular article on Dr. Sarno here.

As with any medical issue, it is critical to primarily be under the care of your family doctor. Don Russell  can bring other resources and approaches to complement you medical care.

Photo credit: Gisela Giardino. Used under license

Toward Calm: Trauma Treatment

Healing From Trauma and Abuse

Trauma and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder are much more familiar concepts these days. Most people are familiar with the terms and many people understand the signs of trauma. Fortunately, research has advanced also in understanding at a neurological level what is happening in the mind of a traumatized person. And perhaps more importantly within the past 10-20 years, we have a much better understanding of how to  do trauma treatment and bring about relief and possibly resolution of trauma symptoms. For example;

  • We know that a person who has suffered trauma can not simply ‘get over it’. Their mind is stuck in a loop of thing, feeling and reacting they can’t get out of by themselves.
  • We know that the looping the mind is doing is the mind trying its hardest to heal itself by making sense of an experience – except that the trauma experience does not make any sense.
  • We know that anxiety always accompanies trauma and depression very often accompanies trauma too.
  • We know that trauma symptoms can be caused by a traumatic event (Acute trauma); a traumatic pattern in early life (developmental trauma); or by a traumatic event very early in life, before the person has developed language, in which case the trauma is stored in the body and emotions, but not in words.
  • We know that trauma typically has to be treated with talk therapy. But talk therapy usually isn’t enough. Therapies that target and heal the body and the emotions are required for full healing and recovery.
  • We know that trauma is about an experience that was profoundly unsafe. That profoundly unsafe feeling carries on long after the traumatic event has ended. And so, trauma treatment must, first create a felt sense of safety in the therapy office.

Trauma treatment requires a competent therapist to accurately tease out these issues so that the person receives the best treatment. Effective treatments for each of trauma exists, but it is very important that you work with a therapist who is astute and up to date on treatment options. The competent clinician who treats a traumatized client needs to have a general perspective on how trauma undermines a person’s basic assumptions about how the world and their own life operate in order to help a person re-establish a coherent perspective. It is also important to take into account the cultural perspective of traumatized clients.

Acute Trauma

Acute trauma is the ‘normal’ kind of trauma that comes to mind when we hear the term. A dramatic event that the person didn’t see coming rocked their world and left them shocked and reeling. The event might be a motor vehicle accident, sexual assault, robbery or some other form of criminal violence. Trauma treatment in these kinds of cases is frequently relatively brief and efficient since the trauma is constrained to an event or a small period of time.

Developmental Trauma

Photo credit Mario used under license

In contrast to acute trauma that is discrete and contained in terms of when it happened, developmental trauma occurred as a pattern of behavior and interactions over a long period of time, in childhood. These patterns aren’t abusive in the way we normally think of that term, but they are still damaging. For example, a parent who is not able to reliably regulate their own anxiety, may unintentionally communicate to their child a) that the world is not a safe place, b) being a grown up is a scary thing, and c) that it is the child’s role and responsibility to regulate the parent’s emotions. These kinds of dynamics can create trauma effects in the child, such as a distrust of others and apprehension toward ‘being adult’ and an over-developed sense of responsibility for other’s feelings. Not the recipe for a full and abundant life. This creates a few challenges for treatment. The individual may not immediately recognize that the behaviors and interactions were dysfunctional, because the person wouldn’t know anything different.

Childhood Abuse

Childhood abuse can take a variety of forms: some obvious and some more subtle. Obvious abuse like physical violence and sexual exploitation need no explanation. Other forms of childhood abuse such as verbal violence, emotional manipulation and emotional neglect can be equally damaging, but more difficult to recover from since the wounds aren’t apparent.

Vicarious or Secondary Trauma

Vicarious or secondary trauma is equally potent but much less understood and accepted than the kinds of trauma described above. Police officers, firefighters, other emergency responders as well as counsellors and social workers witness and hear stories of traumatic events that have happened to others. But witnessing and hearing about can have the same effect as experiencing it oneself.
The symptoms can be similar, including hyper-arousal, numbing out, flashbacks or intrusive thoughts and collateral effects including substance abuse. What makes vicarious trauma more difficult to deal with is that the helper may have difficulty accepting that witnessing can have a traumatizing effect since they were doing their job helping others.

Spiritual Abuse

Since one’s spirituality is so central to who we are as people when one’s spirituality is exploited and hijacked for someone else’s advantage, the effects can be particularly damaging. This makes spiritual abuse is a special case of the abuse of power, and particularly difficult to recover from. The therapist’s at Russell & Associates can bring a reasoned perspective and an empathetic response to this kind of abuse and facilitate the recovery and healing from spiritual abuse.

How Our Trauma Treatment Can Help

The therapists at Russell & Associates are caring, patient and skilled in identifying the factors involved in these forms of abuse and they are highly skilled treating trauma and abuse with clinically proven techniques. Call us today to get started on your healing journey. Or simply contact us by email here. We will get back to you shortly.


Toward Freedom: Anxiety Therapy

Do You Need Anxiety Treatment?

Does it feel you feel that your worries are taking over your life? Do you find yourself rehearsing difficulties from the past as if that will protect you from problems in the future? Are you noticing your anxiety is preventing you from engaging in, and fully enjoying your life? Read on to learn more about anxiety treatment.

If the questions above strike a chord with you, we have good news!
Anxiety, the kind of anxiety that starts to get in the way of life is very common, in fact about a third of the population will have a diagnosable anxiety disorder during their lifetime. Since anxiety typically shows up with unpleasant and frightening physical symptoms, many people with anxiety find themselves in their doctor’s offices on a regular basis with physical complaints such as stomach aches and headaches. Anxiety can lead to social and professional withdrawal. People with anxiety often complain of restlessness, difficulty concentrating, physical tension and sleep issues. The not-so-good news is that left untreated, anxiety tends to grow and take over more and more ‘space’ in a person’s life. Part of this is because anxiety tends to trick people into doing things that maintain or even grow the anxiety, instead of reduce it. That’s why some people say, ‘I’m trying to get a grip on this, but it just seems to get worse’.
Anxiety issues are among the most common issues that brings people to the therapist’s office. The good news is that anxiety is also among the most treatable disorders.
The therapists in our group are very familiar with how anxiety works and familiar with what helps and what doesn’t. With recent advances in interpersonal neuro-science, we know more than ever what helps and why it helps.So, whether it is panic, of a trauma-related anxiety; whether it is a fear of flying, or public speaking or small spaces, let us help you get your life back.

What Can you Expect in Anxiety Treatment?

Your therapist will listen carefully to your description of anxiety so we can understand together the history, context, the triggers and the impact anxiety is having in your life. We will also listen to hear what resources and strategies you already have in place that are helping. Then will will begin treatment by working together to help you develop new strategies to manage worry and stress in your life. Likely, we will address beliefs about the protective value of worrying. In anxiety disorder treatment, we will engage in active problem solving and the development of applied relaxation techniques, mindfulness techniques, and perhaps guided imagery exercises. For some people and situations, a more advanced technique of EMDR will be offered to repair the dysfunctionally stored information processing that is maintaining the anxiety. Anxiety disorder treatment will help you implement evidence-based techniques for managing anxiety and worry in your life. Treatment for anxiety disorders will help you develop productive worry and preparation techniques, and learn to keep excessive anxiety in its place.
Contact us today to get your life back from anxiety!