People living with chronic pain and coexisting disorders, including addiction, have many obstacles that often make helping them very challenging. Many of these people have tremendous amounts of grief and loss as well as other problems that lower their quality of life. Some of the other major roadblocks are the patients’ high levels of denial and resistance to treatment. Other major obstacles include shame based attitudes and approaches used by their treatment providers.
To help overcome these obstacles and for healing to occur people living with chronic pain must feel listened to, understood, taken seriously and affirmed as human beings. This is the starting point for them to overcome any potential treatment resistance and denial. To do this requires a respect-centered approach utilizing a motivational denial management approach.
This is why I make an effort in my trainings to teach clinicians what I call the Formula for Success which is a process that helps overcome a person’s resistance and denial. But before I explain the Formula for Success I want to first tell you about the Formula for Disaster.
The formula for disaster starts when a healthcare provider is unaware of a bias or prejudgment they have about their patient. In their mind they know what the patient needs even before they tell their story. Often they use what I call a “cookie-cutter” approach or a one size fits all treatment strategy.
If there is a coexisting addictive disorder, a negative bias or stigma is often involved; after all they’re just an addict. This prejudgment is often followed by insensitivity; especially if the clinician is overwhelmed or overworked.
Many times healthcare providers talk at and work on their patients instead of talking with them and working with them. Added to this pre-judgment and insensitivity, many clinicians resort to confrontation in order to get their patients to do what they want; this is the “my way or the highway phenomenon.” This combination almost always leads to a power struggle.
When I ask people in my trainings who they think usually wins this power struggle, many of them believe it’s the patient, others say the provider. The patient may feel they win because they’re not going to let you put one over on them. And the provider may feel like they win because they knock the patient into compliance—but it’s usually a malicious compliance. Some training participants get it right away, nobody really wins.
I believe it’s vitally important to change this dynamic by implementing the formula for success which starts with the provider recognizing, then replacing pre-judgments with understanding. The best way I know to gain this understanding is to really listen to what the patient is actually saying. To do this a clinician must use empathic and active listening to make sure they are receiving what the patient is sending.
The next step is to replace insensitivity with compassion and empathy—not sympathy. Instead of confrontation it is important to use positive strength based challenge. Sometimes this challenge is a tough love approach; but always with respect and in the best interest of the patient.
When we pull all of these pieces together we get collaboration instead of power struggles. This collaboration is the crucial first step for effective healing to occur. That is why the Formula for Success is an integral component of the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System. My goal is to always work with people; not on them!
To learn more about my thoughts on effective chronic pain management please check out my article Treating People in Chronic Pain that you can download for free on our Article page.
If you’d like to receive training for helping people with relapse prevention, I’m very excited to announce that the Gorski-CENAPS Corporation is presenting The Relapse Prevention Therapy44 Hour Certification Training in Ft. Lauderdale October 18-22, 2010. To learn more about this 5 day 44 hour training you can check out our Calendar page.
You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you or a loved one is undergoing chronic pain management, especially if you’re in recovery or believe you may have a medication or other mental health problem and you want to learn more effective chronic pain management tools, please go to our Publications page and check out my books; especially the Addiction-Free Pain Management® Recovery Guide: Managing Pain and Medication in Recovery. To purchase this book please Click Here.
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