Why Choose a Pain Management Coach? Is Coaching For Me?
“If you put your hand into a fire, does anyone have to tell you to move it? Do you have to decide? No: When your hand starts to burn, it moves. You don’t have to direct it; the hand moves itself. In the same way, once you understand, through inquiry, that an untrue thought causes suffering, you move away from it.”
- Byron Katie
Byron Kathleen Mitchell, better known as Byron Katie is an American speaker and author who teaches a method of self-inquiry known as "The Work of Byron Katie" or simply as "The Work".
As mentioned earlier, it was important to me to take the time to explain my life before chronic pain...and explain my life after chronic pain in the hope of effectively relaying just how much I can relate and empathize with your chronic pain story.
As chronic pain sufferers, our stories are different and unique in many ways but did you know that many of our stories begin to unfold with similar plot twists? Anxiety, depression, fear-avoidance, isolation, employment difficulties, and miscommunications are just a few ways in which they intertwine. Chronic pain savagely ravages everything we once knew, believed in and hoped for. Our loved ones do their best to understand, but often times we are left feeling alone in our struggles. Having someone understand your struggles can be invaluable.
However, there is another important reason I so openly share my story - In the hopes of mitigating some of your suffering...the suffering I endured from trial and error after trial and error.
Though my goal is to help you navigate your plight with chronic pain, as a coach, I can't tell you what to do...it's your life, your body, your path, your experience. I'm sure you've heard that or read that from most coaches you're researching...at least, I hope you have!
Here's a way of thinking about it. Let's say you have a huge problem and decide to go to a best friend who has been through something similar for guidance and support. Your friend may share what they've done during their situation and they may suggest people or places or things you can do to help you along. Some friends are a little bolder than others and may even have a passionate opinion as to what you should do...hopefully they'll relay that they will support you in whatever you decide but very few would confidently tell you, "this is what you MUST do." Even if they did, wouldn't a piece of you wonder...or perhaps even rebel, thinking...Wait...it's MY life...you can't tell me what to do!
Inherently, you know what is best for your life. You may need support in figuring out how to get there, you may need help in figuring out how to listen to that still, small, tiny voice within you, but ultimately, you know you are the CEO in your own life.
The same is true for coaching.
With that said, it begs the question...If you're not going to tell me what to do, or how I can fix living with chronic pain...what's the point?
Though there isn't a definitive, single therapy that cures chronic pain, the medical community has agreed that a combination of therapies can improve chronic pain greatly. One of these effective strategies is...yep, you guessed it... coaching.
As reported from The Institute of Medicine - Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research (2):
"...pain management on a daily basis takes place outside any health care setting. They must respond to and attempt to control their own pain while they are at home, at work or school, or in their communities as they go about their lives as actively as they can, or think they can. From that vantage point, the assistance provided by health professionals is largely a matter of guiding, coaching and facilitating self-management. The clinician’s approach clearly must be patient-centered—that is, specific to the individual—to be effective. Because skills in guiding and coaching are not specifically emphasized in medical education, few physicians are sufficiently prepared to perform this support role, although some health professionals from other disciplines, such as nursing or psychology, may be."
Does that mean that every chronic pain sufferer can be helped by coaching? No! Every chronic pain patient should be viewed on a case by case basis. Why? Because there are several variables that contribute to the severity of pain each person feels.
The Institute of Medicine - Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research also found (3):
"Numerous factors—involving the type of pain, one’s background, and personal traits, and the family and social environments—affect an individual’s treatment plan. In many different cases, especially for people with complex, chronic pain conditions, biopsychosocial care (taking into account patients’ unique biologic and genetic constitution, their psychological and emotional composition and reaction, and the societal and environmental framework within which they reside and function) has been shown to be advantageous. In all cases, a trusting relationship between patient and clinician fosters clear communication intended to improve outcomes."
It's for this reason that the best chronic pain therapies need to be patient-centered.
This was the biggest driving force as to why KCPC does NOT have a blanket "one-size-fits-all" chronic pain coaching program.
To read more about what makes our chronic pain wellness coaching programs so effective, click here.
Lets be honest, no one knows how to be sick. No one. Just like no one knows how to handle unbearable grief or tragedy, an unexpected life-threatening diagnosis, or even, coming home from war after serving our country. In other words, those moments in life that I call the, "oh sh*t now everything is going to have to change and nothing will ever be the same again... moments." In fact, most of life is taught at The University of Life's A** Kicking ...a pedagogy rooted in "sink or swim", "fight or flight", "succeed or fail."
Chronic pain, for all involved, is an advanced course at The University of Life's A**Kicking. And though the school is known for providing little to no preparation before a heavily weighted test, it doesn't take the sting out of the big red cumulative F circled across your life.
However, without proper education and experience, what else can one expect?
A decade ago, when I was diagnosed with deep infiltrating endometriosis, there were two paths in Western medicine to take; surgery and/or pain management. When the first two surgeries were essentially ineffective, we took the pain management route. I remember taking pain medication for the first time. My overly stressed body relaxed, the pain began to ease and I said, "Ohmigosh...why didn't we think of this sooner? I actually FEEL better!"
What I didn't understand was the fact that I was only treating the symptom.
As my disease progressed, so did the need for managing additional symptoms- a cycle I call, "chase and treat." Suddenly, my life began to unravel one thread at a time, deeming the pain medication is useless.
Pain medication had been the ONLY "coping skill," chronic pain sufferers were given for a very long time.
The medical community eventually realized that this was happening.
Enter integrative medicine.
Am I a Candidate For KCPC Coaching?
Regardless of what you may read elsewhere, the truth of the matter is,
CP coaching ISN'T for everyone.
It's important that you understand that we don't work with every client that contacts us, not because KCPC doesn't want to help everyone that reaches out to us; It's quite the contrary.
We want to ensure that chronic pain coaching will be an effective step along your journey- we want you to get a "return on your investment" - we want to be a valuable use of your time.
It is for this reason that we strive to make our website a genuine resource and why we ask that you carefully consider your commitment to the process.
We offer 90 minutes of complimentary coaching sessions so that we can establish together if you are truly READY for the KCPC chronic pain coaching process.
But, what factors show us your're ready for chronic pain coaching?
Though there are several, the most dominant ones are discussed below.
A study published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, entitled, “Epidemiology of Chronic Pain with Psychological Comorbidity: Prevalence, Risk, Course, and Prognosis,” sought to research the potential connection between chronic pain and mental health. (4)
Before publishing the data, they listed the following clinical implications (or medical consequences).
Mental health professionals frequently encounter patients with chronic pain. Assessment and treatment should consider pain variables and concurrent demographic, psychological, psychosocial, and employment factors.
Course and prognosis are significantly influenced by chronic pain with psychological comorbidity.
Those engaged in mental health care planning and administration must be aware of the high prevalence of chronic pain and the importance of health outcome predictors to realistically plan for adequate services.
As you can see above, when working with a chronic pain sufferer, mental health must be addressed in order to provide "adequate services."
KCPC is designed to appropriately address chronic pain and mental health simultaneously.
However, it is important to note that though we address mental health by partnering with a leading licensed mental health professional, we will recommend + encourage that you seek a higher level of care if mental health risks exist before beginning a KCPC Wellness Program.
So, why do we require this?
Because a healthy mind is imperative for physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Physical independence cannot be achieved without mental health.
Emotional well-being cannot be achieved without mental health.
Spiritual connection cannot be achieved without mental health.
Mental health is the building block from which well-being stems from.
To read further on what KCPC is legally responsible to report regardless of client/patient confidentiality, please click the icon above.
If Any of the Following Apply to You or Your Loved One, It's Important to Understand We Will Recommend + Encourage a Higher Level of Care BEFORE Working With KCPC.
To learn more about this topic, please click here.
You are not under a physicians care and have a known unmanaged mental illness.
You have recently attempted (within the past 30 days) or are currently contemplating suicide.
You are currently taking unprescribed medication or using illicit drugs
If you or your loved one is in one of the difficult circumstances above, please know you can and will get through it!
However, you will most likely need an intensive, carefully monitored treatment plan with one or more physicians.
A good portion of achieved results KCPC client's experience is during self-reflection and implementation of the assignments provided, therefore, KCPC requires that our clients have the ability to work independently.
Unsure if this criterion pertains to you or your loved one?
Not to worry!
Give us a call for a complimentary 30-minute phone consult!
If Any of the Following Apply to You or Your Loved One, It's Important to Understand We Will Recommend + Encourage You to Continue to Work With or Begin Working With a Professional/Specialist (either in our network of partners or someone else of your choice) WHILE Working With KCPC.
You are currently taking prescribed medication but are regularly exceeding the prescribed daily dosage.
You have decided you'd like to reduce and/or eliminate your prescribed pain and/or anxiety medication.
You have a known physical and/or mental illness and are under the care of a physician.
To read further about our partners, please click the icon above.
Providing, you don't need a higher level of care first, perhaps the biggest factor that will determine your KCPC success...is attitude.
There are two, and only two attitudes a chronic pain sufferer can choose.
An Unwilling Attitude
A Willing Attitude.
Whether you recognize it or not, as a chronic pain sufferer, you've made a choice
its dictated your overall
well-being, happiness + success.
I truly believe there are two, and only two attitudes of someone in chronic pain:
An Unwilling Attitude
A Willing Attitude.
ALL of us begin with an unwilling attitude but not all of us move into a willing attitude. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and statesman who famously said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
I'd be hard-pressed to find someone who willingly signed up to take on a life with chronic pain - it "just happened to us." Regardless of WHY we ended up in chronic pain, be it, an accident, an illness, a birth defect - ultimately, we are not responsible for it, we didn't ask for it and we certainly didn't have a choice in the matter.
If you have an unwilling attitude
it's likely you've heard yourself say things like:
Why did this happen to me?
What did I do to deserve this?
How did I get so unlucky?
I'm obviously being punished for (insert whatever you feel guilty/shameful about).
No one understands how difficult this is.
I can't do this for much longer - I just want to give up - my life is over anyway.
Everyone is better off without me- I'm just a burden.
Why do I want to hear my family/friends petty problems - I'd give anything to have problems like that!
This is never going to end!
If (insert any catalyst for chronic pain) didn't happen, then I would have never gotten into pain in the first place!
I don't have ANY control over my pain.
It's not my fault that I ended up this way! The blame belongs to (my higher power/ God, my physicians/ my employer/ the other driver/etc.)
I have no choice in the matter.
Easy for you to suggest trying (insert anything) - you obviously have no idea how difficult that would be for me.
I've tried everything and nothing works!
There's no point in (working/playing with the kids/hanging out with friends/going out to dinner/completing household responsibilities, etc.) because it's just going to make my pain worse.
My (spouse/family/caregiver) is tired, upset, frustrated, etc.? Seriously?! They should try being in my body!
The only thing that helps my pain is pain medication.
I'm not strong enough/smart enough/financially well off enough, to figure this out.
My health is already ruined...why should I put in the effort of practicing a healthy lifestyle?
In other words, you regularly function with a "victim mentality" - characterized by anger, resentment, blame, isolation, self-pity, (conscious or subconscious) manipulation, evading responsibility and/or accountability, selfishness, pessimism, depression and/or anxiety.
ALL chronic pain sufferers have the opportunity to move away from an unwilling attitude and walk down another street, however, not all of us CHOOSE to do so.
Yes, choose. Yes. Choose.
Walter Anderson was once quoted as saying, "I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life." A victim mentality is a learned behavior just as much as a victor mentality is - once you understand and accept this, life as you know it, will change.
Here is the caveat:
Those who possess a willing attitude DON'T need to know HOW to get to where they want to be - in fact, that is more likely the case, which arguably may be the very reason you're here.
You may not (yet) possess the coping skills necessary to change your life with chronic pain...BUT, you are willing to do whatever it takes to improve your health, relationships, perspective and ultimately, your life.
If you've begun to move into or have arrived at willing attitude
it's likely you've heard yourself say things like:
What I have been doing has not worked, so perhaps I need to be open to a new way of doing things.
I may not have been responsible for my pain, but I think I'm responsible for my attitude.
I don't know where to begin, but I am willing to put in the work to change my behaviors/thoughts/patterns if it has the potential to help ease my CP.
I should learn more about my specific illness and chronic pain so I find the most effective and appropriate physicians/professionals/therapies but there is so much varying information I don't know where to start.
There must be others in CP who feel like me - I wonder if it would help to find a support group of some kind?
If I could just find a way to readjust the expectations I put on myself, my family, my friends, physicians, etc., I think it could possibly help.
(1) TMJ & Facial Pain Center, Westerville, Columbus, Ohio, USA.
(2) + (3) Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education. Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.
(4) Tunks, Eldon R, et al. “Epidemiology of Chronic Pain with Psychological Comorbidity: Prevalence, Risk, Course, and Prognosis.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 53, no. 4, 2008, pp. 224–234., doi:10.1177/070674370805300403.