“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
– Viktor Frankl
Seeing a counselor for your chronic pain or chronic illness does not delegitimize your pain and illness at all; rather, counseling can help you to feel validated in your emotional experience of living with chronic pain and illness, while facilitating you with addressing the aspects of your life that you have the ability to gain more power over, such as your personal perspective for living in spite of your circumstances: i.e. the way you think about your chronic pain and chronic illness. This is done by examining the level to which you fear your pain or illness, as well as assessing if you experience feelings of anxiety, depression, or anger when thinking about your circumstances, and engage in avoidant or unhelpful behaviors that might be contributing further to your physical and emotional discomfort.
Counseling for chronic pain and illness can also help you to explore possible links between your pain and previous trauma, as well as the degree to which you may be adding psychological distress to your physical pain and illness by further awfulizing and catastrophizing the idea of chronic pain and chronic illness. Through counseling, you can learn how to more effectively accept your experience, as it is, and ultimately find a purpose in your pain, your illness, and your personal narrative.
REBT (rational emotive behavior therapy) is my specialty, and it is a highly effective therapeutic approach in helping to alleviate the psychological effects of chronic pain and chronic illness, as well as potentially lesson some of the accompanying physical symptoms. REBT is the pioneering form of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), which is recognized as one of the most effective methods of psychotherapy for chronic pain and illness. Both REBT and CBT are forms of talk therapy that aim to help those living with chronic pain and chronic illness transform the way you feel and behave by examining the way that you think about your internal experience of pain and illness, as well as your overarching external perceptions of chronic pain and illness in general.
In addition to REBT and CBT, I incorporate some MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) strategies into my counseling approach, which gives my clients an opportunity to use relaxation techniques, such as deep-breathing, mindful awareness in the here-and-now, rational emotive imagery, and grounding. MBCT in conjunction with REBT and CBT aims to heighten personal awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors relating to your pain or illness from a non-judgmental stance, where you can learn to more effectively accept what you cannot control, and therefore learn to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable sensations, changes, and additional realities of chronic pain and chronic illness.
When it comes to counseling for both chronic pain and chronic illness, it is vital for my clients to understand that as your counselor:
· I believe in your story!
· I aim to validate your feelings!
· I will work with you from a non-judgmental perspective!
· I can support you in your challenges by building the foundation for our therapeutic relationship through legitimizing your experience!
· I promise to respect your personal and individual journey with chronic pain and/or chronic illness, while compassionately and respectfully calling attention to the parts of our lives which we have more power over than we often realize, such as the relationship between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors!
REBT-based counseling can be incredibly beneficial for those living with chronic pain and chronic illness. As a chronic migraine sufferer, myself, I can personally empathize with the shared frustrations of my clients who are struggling to adjust to your new-normal relating to life with chronic pain and chronic illness. I understand how important it is to feel validated in your unique experiences, to be believed that your symptoms are legitimate, and to have support in your personal and professional life as you learn how to navigate through this frustrating and seemingly isolating journey.
As your counselor, my purpose in your story is to walk beside you: to collaborate with you in creating customized and effective coping strategies to help make your life a little bit easier. In my view, when we are unable to find practical solutions to the adversities within our life, we are best equipped to seek out emotional solutions. REBT focuses on helping you to find an emotional solution that is personally tailored for you, and I would be honored to facilitate you on your path to emotional wellness. This path begins with acknowledging the relationship between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, as well as your openness to recognizing that the origin of our power is within our innate ability to choose our perspective, to change the way that we think about our challenges, and to transform the way that we feel and behave as a result!