by Moby Coquillard, LMFT in San Mateo, CA
Pain Management is an achievable goal.
Chronic pain can be very debilitating and depressing for anyone who suffers from it. Activities that were once enjoyable and a source of pleasure can be draining and exhausting. Often people with pain cannot find medical relief and they are told by their doctors that they will have to learn to live with it. However, they are not told how to achieve pain management.
Through my teaching and practice in mindfulness meditation, I have seen numerous cases where people begin to find increased pain management or relief as I guide them to a more peaceful existence with their pain. This happens as they begin to learn to pay attention to it, in a very non-judgmental or compassionate manner.
Previous pain relief studies have demonstrated that participants in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes experience between 30%-50% reduction in their experience of pain. I have constantly been amazed at the internal resources people discover as they learn to pay attention to the physical sensations of pain, while practicing an attitude of openness, kindness and non-judgement. This very practice allows people to create a more life affirming response. They are literally able to shift their mind’s reactivity toward a more peaceful coexistence with what is hurting. They gain a new view of pain management.
In a very similar manner, EMDR therapy can help change the experience of chronic pain. In my safe and respecting San Mateo office environment, I have used an EMDR approach to help people develop the courage to process the experience of pain and to generate new responses. Slowing down the process in this way, the therapy is used to help people reduce their suffering. Utilizing EMDR therapy, I have taught people to differentiate the symptoms of the physical pain from the complicated emotional reactions and distorted thoughts that increase their suffering.
Many people who seek pain management or relief have been living with their condition for many months or years. They come to believe, and are often told by members of the medical establishment, that this pain will remain this way indefinitely. As a coping mechanism, it is quite natural to go on autopilot just to get through the day.
On automatic pilot, people develop beliefs, visual imagery, internal responses, and judgements without the awareness of how these reactions impact their moods and their bodies. Day to day life, with all the demands and obligations, often does not allow someone to truly look at how they relate to the pain and how that relationship affects their well being.
The EMDR therapy that I practice is a useful and holistic approach to all of these avenues in a search for increased well being. While the pain does not disappear, it can be revealed to be dynamic, that it changes from day to day and moment to moment. I have found that this therapeutic approach can help people slow down to look at their thoughts, emotions, and imagery related to the pain, and how these experiences are affecting them.
While the approach through EMDR therapy may not provide relief 100% of the time, it often provides people with an opening to coexist more peacefully with the pain. Utilizing this method, the processing that I have done with people helps them to be more present with their pain in a supportive way, freeing them from the past interpretations and the future worries about it. Through EMDR Therapy, people can ease their distress and enjoy a better quality of life.
©2014 Moby Coquillard, LMFT
About the Author:
Moby Coquillard, LMFT received his BA in Human Biology from Stanford University and his MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. He has been licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in San Mateo, California since 1991. He works with adults, couples, and adolescents and specializes in trauma resolution, anxiety management, pain management and depression. He has practiced EMDR therapy since 2004. Mindfulness and spiritual growth are central to his work and, for the past 10 years, he has taught an 8 week course in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.