Thinking About Psychotherapy

It’s not a secret that I go to see a psychotherapist. I’m very open about it, and quite frankly, I feel like most people should see one at least one time in their life. Whether it be just for a few sessions or for a longer time, everyone has issues in their life that they need to deal with. Those of us with chronic pain definitely have reason to seek out therapy. That being said, what kind of therapist should we seek out? Which approach works best? The reason this thought process came to mind is that I’m taking a university course in Theories of Counselling, and I can see the benefits of the different approaches in dealing with chronic pain clients.

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I see someone who specializes in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which is essentially a combination of cognitive and behavioural approaches, and includes a lot of mindfulness practices and homework assignments. Another student in the class also recommended Dialectical Behaviour Therapy as a good approach for dealing with chronic pain clients. I personally connect with Existential Therapy for many reasons, though alone, I don’t think it would be enough to help someone dealing with chronic pain.

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After discussing with a classmate who has MS and fibromyalgia (hello let’s meet at my SLE and fibromyalgia – I find it so beneficial talking with others going through similar things as me) we came to the conclusion that a multimodal or integrated approach would probably work best for a lot of chronic pain clients. Borrowing techniques and theories from a variety of approaches to apply them to each individual’s unique experience with chronic pain. The key is finding therapists who already work within a multimodal framework or are willing to do so. There is a little bit of legwork required by you, the client, in finding someone to help you. All in all, anything that helps you deal with your chronic pain and resulting anxiety, depression or other psychological factors is worth it.

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Meditation Apps

Since I started meditating in November of 2016, I have used a number of different apps on my phone to guide me during my (almost) daily meditations. Though all the apps have benefits, here is a bit of why I like and dislike the three that I have used the most. You might be asking yourself, why use an app? Shouldn’t meditation just be done on your own? It’s a great question. The truth is, meditation is a tough habit to get into. To really be present takes a lot of practice, and guided meditations can help get you into the groove. Though I can meditate without them, I find I still have an overall easier time with someone reminding me to let my thoughts go. Be present.

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Headspace. This app was recommended to my by my naturopathic doctor. That’s usually a good sign for an app to use. When I first started using the app there were only 10 meditations on their free version. Though they’ve since updated and now have a lot more. The meditations are all about 10 minutes in length, which is perfect. It takes a lot of practice to get over 10 minutes. They offer reminders as well, if you want to meditate at the same time every day. The annual subscription is $129.99 and gives a lot more content. Interestingly they also offer a lifetime subscription of $549.99, which is pretty cool.

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Pacifica. This the app that I used the most initially because it offers more than just meditations. It’s also the app I currently subscribe to for $53.99USD, which isn’t bad as it offers more meditations and learning paths (basically learning how to meditate). The app also offers the ability for you to monitor your daily health (preloaded options and customizable). A hope board, a journal to write down your thoughts, a goal board, and you can enter your daily mood. What I don’t like about the mood part is that the options are “great,” “very good,” “good,” “okay,” “not good,” “bad,” and “awful.” I think it would be more productive to enter a feeling as the above aren’t really examples of how we feel in regards to our mood. There are also message boards and chat groups available, which some people might find extremely helpful, especially in connecting with others dealing with the same physical and/or mental health issues that they are.

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Calm. This one might be my current favourite. I downloaded it awhile ago but just started to use it the past few weeks. It offers a number of free meditations under different categories (Beginners, Anxiety, Sleep, Focus, Stress, Relationships, Emotions, Self-Care, Personal Growth, Inner Peace, Resilience, Insight, Less Guidance, and Kids). It also offers some Masterclasses, if you’re ready to go above and beyond. In addition it offers some sleep stories (literally stories meant to put you to sleep), and meditative music if you want to meditate without guidance (or if you just want your house to feel like a spa for awhile). The app also offers meditation reminders and can connect to Apple Health if you’re an iPhone user like me! The premium version is $59.99 per year after a 7 day free trial, which is pretty good bang for your buck.

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All in all, I recommend trying out free version of apps before purchasing. Extra content is cool, and if you are practicing daily, then it becomes more necessary.

Be Present. Be Calm. Be Mindful.