Pain management coaching – what’s it all about?
You may be wondering what pain management coaching is, what’s involved, how it works, and if it can help you with your pain. If so, I answer these questions and more below, so read on.
What is pain management coaching?
At its essence, pain management coaching is about supported self-management. It puts the person with pain at the centre of the picture. Instead of ‘treating’ pain, it addresses the impact that pain has on people. Because of this, it considers the whole person and the impact of pain on various areas of their life – work, play, relationships, and health. It is a solutions-focused approach that helps people with ongoing pain build confidence and develop problem-solving skills to help them feel, move, and live well.
Using the knowledge and skills I have gained from my postgraduate studies in pain and pain management, together with over 20 years of working in the health sector and 30 years of living with chronic pain myself, I draw on a range of tools to help clients I work with.
I work in partnership with you to help you make sense of your pain, identify what is important to you and set your own goals. This includes helping you develop your own toolkit of strategies to manage your pain, deal with setbacks and flare-ups, and tackle barriers that might be causing you to feel stuck. When we feel more in control of how pain affects us, we feel more empowered, we can cope better, and we can find enjoyment in the things that matter to us.
Who is pain management coaching for?
Pain management coaching is suitable for anyone living with chronic pain. Chronic pain is pain that persists or recurs for longer than 3 months. You might have been living with your pain for several months or many years. Your pain might be related to an injury, or a medical condition you have been diagnosed with. It might be localised to one part of your body such as your lower back, or it might affect several areas or your whole body, for example, pain related to Fibromyalgia. Whatever your situation is, pain management coaching can be of help.
What if I am seeing another health practitioner about my pain?
You might already be seeing your GP, specialist, physiotherapist, or other health practitioners for your pain. Pain management coaching can be a valuable approach, working alongside these. If you have already been through a pain management service and have been discharged, pain management coaching can be helpful to get you back on track if you have got stuck or need to revisit some of the strategies you have already learned.
What can I expect at my initial appointment?
Before your initial appointment, you will be sent an electronic new client form to fill out. This takes around 10 to 15 minutes to complete, depending on your health and treatment history. It is important to complete and return this form prior to the day of your appointment because it helps me tailor this first session to you.
At your initial appointment I want to find out about you and your own experience of living with pain - what you know, think and believe about it, and how it affects you. I also want to understand what is important to you - your needs, preferences and goals. Because pain is both influenced by and affects what is going on in many aspects of our self – our physical body, our mental and emotional health, our connections with others at home, work and play – I ask questions that cover all of these areas.
Once we have explored your lived experience, we put our heads together and develop your own bespoke plan to help you manage your pain and improve your well-being. I encourage you to take an active part in developing your plan. This might be different from what you have tried before. The great thing about this solution-focused approach is that you own the plan, rather than it being a one-size-fits-all plan imposed on you. Once we have come up with a plan, you go off and try it out.
I follow up with you within a week after your initial appointment, to see how you are going.
How many sessions will I need?
Sometimes, people develop a strong plan, come back for one or two follow-up sessions and after that, they get on with it and don’t require any ongoing help. Other times, people come back for additional sessions to consolidate the skills they have learned, learn new skills, or refine their plan further. Some people might need additional coaching if there have been some new challenges that have affected their ability to manage their pain. The number and frequency of sessions depend on the individual person and their needs.
What can I expect at my follow-up appointment?
At the start of a follow-up session, we review how things have been going for you and your experience of working with your individualised plan. We explore any areas that have been challenging and I may use some questionnaires to get additional information from you to help us gain more insight into what might be affecting your ability to manage your pain. We also use these sessions to celebrate successes, whatever they may look like.
Session location, availability, and pricing
Pain management coaching sessions can be in-person at my Wellington clinic, or virtual via Zoom, for those unable to make it to the clinic or people living in other parts of New Zealand. Sessions are 50 minutes long. Currently, they are available on Monday and Tuesday, however, other days and times can be arranged by negotiation. The charge for initial and follow-up sessions is $100.
Do I need a referral?
You may be referred by your GP, specialist, physiotherapist, or another health practitioner. Self-referrals are also welcome.
Communication and referral to other health professionals
I have referral networks with a range of health practitioners. If you are seeing another health practitioner for treatment for chronic pain, I am happy to collaborate or communicate with them, at your specific request, to help you achieve the best outcomes. Additionally, if it becomes clear that you may benefit from additional treatment that is outside my scope of practice, I am happy to refer you to the appropriate health practitioner upon discussion with you. None of the information you share in your sessions is shared with your other health providers unless you request this.
Scope of practice
Pain management coaching is not counselling or psychotherapy. If anything arises in a pain management coaching session that indicates that these other approaches would be more appropriate, I raise this with you and offer you some referral options.
I participate in regular supervision with an experienced healthcare professional who works in pain and pain management. This ensures my practice is safe, appropriate, and within my scope of practice.
How do I book a session?
You can book an initial session through my online booking system accessible from my website. If you would like to have a chat to find out more first, feel free to get in touch.