Allenmore Psychological Associates remains OPEN. During this period of concern and anxiety having access to quality behavioral health care is important and our staff is dedicated to ensuring your behavioral health care needs are met. In the unlikely event that the WA Department of Health directs us to close we will notify patients via telephone on the day of their appointment (similar to our Snow Day policy). If you are an existing patient who is demonstrating symptoms associated with the coronavirus or impacted by related closures (e.g. cannot find day care due to a school closure) and need to cancel we ask that you inform our staff as soon as possible, APA will not charge you for a late cancellation.

Chronic Pain

According to the National Institute for Mental Health chronic pain is pain that lasts for weeks, months, or even years, and continues even with regular pain medication. Some chronic pain conditions include arthritis (both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis) and spinal issues such scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis (curvatures of the spine). Other pain syndromes include neuropathy, back pain due to bulging or herniated discs, as well as autoimmune disorders such as Lupus, Crohn’s Disease, and Fibromyalgia.

Chronic pain occurs in as many as one in ten individuals. Often chronic pain suffers often do not garner much sympathy from others, who tend to think if there is something wrong, just fix it! However, when dealing with any illness, disorder or syndrome involving chronic pain, there is rarely a simple solution such as a pill, exercise, or physical therapy that will make it all better. Because chronic pain frequently is a life-long condition, patients can be stigmatized as lazy, unmotivated or drug-seeking. Attempts to avoid over-working or over-stressing afflicted body parts are often misunderstood by others around the patient. Individuals suffering from chronic pain often feel alone in their search for ways to alleviate the seemingly endless pain that dominates their thoughts and lives.

Allenmore Psychological Associates (APA) offers chronic pain counseling in Tacoma for those seeking help to manage longstanding pain. At APA we understand how chronic pain symptoms can affect your mental health, outlook on life, involvement in relationships and ability to engage in activities you enjoy. Through counseling, the therapists at Allenmore Psychological Associates are here to support you in engaging in the life you want.

What is the Experience of Chronic Pain Like for Patients?

While primary care providers often prescribe a combination of medications and physical therapy, counseling can help address other issues chronic pain suffers experience, such as anxiety and depression. Patients often have trouble coping with all of the changes in their lives and cannot explain what they are going through to people around them. This can result in feelings of isolation and loneliness. As patients struggle to make the necessary changes in their life to deal with the impact of pain management (for instance. more rest, medication regimens, and physical and occupational therapies), their ability to deal with all the other aspects of our life becomes more difficult, as well. This may result in:

  • Changes in job duties, level of employment, or occupational changes
  • Financial concerns
  • Relationship problems
  • Quality of life concerns

Gradually, or in the case of anxiety symptoms, suddenly, individuals may experience:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Trouble getting to, or staying, asleep
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Avoidance of people, places, or activities
  • Panic attacks
  • Excessive fear

Scientists do not know exactly how chronic pain and depression are linked, but they often occur together, and may include these symptoms:

  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of self-worth and self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Increased fatigue
  • Avoidance and isolation from others
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low energy
  • Trouble with focus, memory and concentration
  • Depressed mood exacerbating pain symptoms

How We Can Help With Suffering Resulting From Chronic Pain

At Allenmore Psychological Associates (APA), our counselors are trained to assess these symptoms and diagnose depression, anxiety, and all other mental health concerns associated with your chronic pain problems. Once one of our counselors has made a thorough assessment of your pain symptoms and any related issues, they will partner with you to develop a strategy to work toward wellness. The chronic pain counseling provided at APA, involves a comprehensive approach focused on dealing with the whole person. This involves working to understand you by learning of your mental and physical history, current diagnoses, relationships, and the concerns and issues in your life that are impacting your wellbeing. Some of the approaches we employ include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT focuses on understanding the relationships between a client’s patterns of thinking, believing and behaving, and the client’s experience of pain. By learning to alter certain patterns, clients can change their perceptions of pain and improve their capacities to cope.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) – ACT helps client examine the role that attempting to avoid or control aspects of their pain experiences can play in actually maintaining or making those pain experiences worse. ACT attempts to help client’s foster an accepting stance towards their thinking and pain experiences. Focusing on identifying and living a life aligned with what the client values is another common element of counseling based on ACT. Research suggests that ACT can help client’s reduce their suffering related to pain and live a more functional and satisfying life.

Mindfulness – Mindfulness approaches to pain management help client’s cultivate a curious, observant and non-judging stance towards their pain experiences. Meditation and similar techniques are often employed. Clients learn to distinguish between their current sensations of pain and the “story” that their mind has created about the pain. These “stories” often involve limiting beliefs (“I can’t handle this”) and dismal predictions about the future (“This is going to go on forever and get worse and worse”). Learning to notice and detach from these “stories” results in a decrease in the subjective sense of suffering related to the client’s pain.

Guided imagery – Guided imagery techniques engage the client’s imagination and all of their senses to intentionally create soothing and calming images associated with safety, security and healing. Guided imagery can promote relaxation, decrease muscle tension and reduce blood pressure. This counseling approach can also help client’s cultivate a more optimistic outlook, increase their ability to cope with hardship and break the worry-tension-pain cycle so commonly observed with chronic pain sufferers.

Contact APA for Help in Coping With Your Chronic Pain

At APA, we value providing the best care to our clients. We pride ourselves on providing the chronic pain counseling Tacoma area residents can rely on to support their health and wellbeing. Our role as therapists is to guide, motivate, and empower our clients. We are committed to helping our clients learn to cope effectively with their chronic pain and to be their best selves, even in the most difficult of life circumstances. Our diverse team of mental health provides have a wide variety of skills and areas of specialization and, as such, provide options for our clients in finding the best fit for their needs. Our practice has been in the same location in Tacoma, WA for over 30 years, providing consistent care to those we serve. We strive to form a connection with you and your primary care provider, and to offer an integrated approach to your health and wellness. We believe working with your medical doctor allows us to provide you the best quality counseling, ensuring that your mental health concerns and physical health conditions, such as Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Irritable Bowel Disease are being treated comprehensively. When you feel better, you live better. Chronic pain need not control or govern your life. Let us help you learn to work with, and through your chronic pain to return to your life. To schedule an appointment to get started in overcoming chronic pain and reclaiming your life, please call us at (253) 752-7320.

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