Mind-Body Approach to Chronic Pain Treatment
Traditionally, psychological treatment for chronic pain has focused on acceptance and management of pain, rather than its reduction or elimination. However, recent research has determined that many instances of chronic pain are due to learned nerve pathways in the brain rather than acute tissue damage.
Pain Reprocessing Therapy and other mind-body therapeutic approaches address this root cause of chronic pain. Retraining the brain can result in a reduction or elimination of the pain experience.
How It Works: Normally when we have an injury, the body sends signals to the brain, informing us of sensations that signal acute tissue damage, and leading to an instinctive self-preserving course reaction (such as fight, flight or freeze). Neuroplastic pain and other chronic physical symptoms result from an over sensitized brain misinterpreting safe messages from the body as if they were dangerous. In other words, neuroplastic pain is a false alarm.
Our brain does the best it can in the moment to interpret the world and keep us safe. To do so it must rapidly pair information learned in the past with our present experience. This happens automatically and thus subconsciously. However, sometimes the brain gets it wrong. When we understand our nervous system in this way we can use our logical thinking brain to effect change.
The goal of PRT is to retrain the brain to respond to signals from a space of safety and subsequently break the cycle. It recognizes that our thought, emotions, and behaviors are intricately connected to our bodies. It offers easy-to-learn, structured interventions -- such as Somatic Tracking and Leaning into Positive Sensations -- to help you learn to attend to all embodied sensations through a distinct lens of safety, thus deactivating the learned neuropathways and create new responses.
For some people, the neuroplastic pain cycle begins with an acute physical injury that evolves into a cycle of fear related to the trauma of the injury. For others, chronic symptoms begin without a structural injury. This may be more common in individuals with a history of trauma or adverse childhood experiences, or for those living with chronic stress.
My therapeutic approach touches upon personal characteristics, early childhood factors, life experiences, and thoughts that may play a role in the origin of your a chronic fear state; however, my focus is not on the specific details of lived experiences or events but rather on how they may have become embodied over time into a pain/fear cycle.