This may sound obvious but I think that we need this to be loud and clear. There are still too many people who say that they feel that they are not believed when they describe their experience.
I started my career in healthcare in ’93 training to be a registered general nurse. My fascination with pain began in the theatre recovery rooms when I noticed how propel responded so differently. The ‘size’ of the operation did not seem to matter. How the person was, in other words their state, really did.
Studying pain, I came across a quote from McCaffery (1968). She stated that it was ‘…whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever the experiencing person says it does.’
This has ever-stuck with me. Everyone behaves in such a way as to meet their needs. When a person describes their pain experience, these are not merely words. It is an expression of need. In chronic pain, we must ask why is pain a predominant feature of this person’s life? What are the needs that must be met for the suffering to ease?
To understand this, the person must be free to express their lived experience from the first person perspective. As clinicians and therapists, we can only gain insight through deep listening within a supportive, encouraging and compassionate environment.
Deep listening involves being present and paying full attention to the person. Not only do we hear their words but we see how they are embodied and delivered. Getting to know our own biases and beliefs allows us to let these go so that there is no ‘filter’, just pure awareness. This begins the therapeutic process.
There’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes at UP. One project that I have been creating is a 6 week UP programme to be delivered to NHS patients. The beauty of the programme is that whilst the content is based upon the latest thinking in pain and associated scientific fields, the actual practices and tools are really simple.
The aim of the UP Workshop is to help people to understand (their) pain and to lead fulfilling lives. This is achieved by following certain principles during day to day living, towards a picture of success.
Currently we are towards the end of the design phase. This involves deciding upon the content and how it will be layered week by week. Whilst the aim is to deliver knowledge, skills and know-how, we will also be measuring the effects together with a cost analysis. Such data will be important for scaling the Workshops to address the huge problem of chronic pain that exists in society (€441bn per year, SIP).
The next CRPS specific Pain Coach Workshop is coming up in Bath — link at the bottom for tickets (free). We had great feedback from the last workshop, but took note of people’s comments and extended the session. This one is longer so we can really tuck into some of the practices, and have the experience together.
The Workshop is by design a positive experience. We very much focus on what we can do and the choices we can make to lead the best life.
Together with specific practices that are important to address CRPS (and other painful problems), we will be looking at the skills that are known to be key for a healthy life. These skills are the best buffer for life’s challenges and hence play a foundation role in overcoming pain. And that is what we are seeking to do. Not ‘managing’ or ‘coping’, instead overcoming and moving to a new level.
The final part of the session is about how we can implement and integrate the practices into our life so that you can make a plan that you can follow in your world and reality.
A report from the Public Health Research Consortium (PHR) has shown the increase in use of opioid medication over the past 15 years. This is despite the fact that our understanding of pain and what we can do to overcome pain has advanced enormously in that time. There is a clear mismatch between the pinnacle of pain knowledge and what is known and practiced in society. The gap must close.
Chronic pain is the number one global health burden, costing society enormously whilst millions are suffering. This is a public health crisis embedded in society. Whilst doctors are increasingly prescribing opioids, society is also demanding a quick fix in the form of a pill.
There is only one person that can overcome his or her pain
In many or most cases, when someone goes to their doctor they expect to come away with a prescription for a pain killer. They do not expect to receive advice on ‘self-management’ despite the fact that this is exactly what should come first. There can be a role for medicines, but within an overall programme of care that revolves around the person’s own understanding, thinking and actions.
To overcome pain takes understanding, the formation of new (healthy) habits, lifestyle changes, practice and effort
The problem of pain can only be solved with social change. This is the reason for UP, to drive that change by delivering knowledge, skills and know-how to society. To truly understand pain is to be free from the on-going loop of suffering by using our strengths to build wellness. This is the essence of the positive strengths-based Pain Coach Programme, with each person reaching their potential by clarifying their picture of success and learning the principles to follow in order to achieve results.
UP driving social change
As a purpose-led enterprise UP has the vision of a world where pain is understood to reduce unnecessary suffering. Our purpose is to drive social change with regards to beliefs about pain because we know that people can overcome pain, build on their wellness and live meaningful lives. Understanding pain provides that opportunity together with self-coaching that gets the best out of each individual so that they can reach their potential in whatever circumstances they find themselves.
The Understand Pain and Pain Coach workshops are tailored for the different groups: e.g./ patients, healthcare professionals, schools. The key information is the same, but the workshop structure and the practices are created with the participants in mind. They leave inherently knowing that there is a choice.
The actual experience is a vital part of the process. The sessions are designed to inspire individuals and healthcare teams to learn and grow, provide practical tools that can be used straight away and to integrate their learning in their own unique way that is appropriate for their life.
UP is bound to the principle of delivering positive work to people across the globe. If you would like to partner or connect because you are interested in driving social change for a better world for all, we would love to hear from you. We all have a responsibility to look after each other and the planet and we can choose to do this in our own way. The UP and Pain Coach Programme encourages, educates and enables individuals and groups to build on their innate capacity for wellness by learning and practicing the skills of being well.
In cultivating our ‘wellness’, we create the conditions for a healthy and happy life. Forming a strong foundation of being well that includes such components as self-compassion, purpose, resilience, attention and gratitude means that we become attuned to the existing goodness in us and the world. This does not mean that we do not face adversity, because everyone does at some point. However, practicing being well means that when we do come up against a problem, we can view it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn instead, using and bolstering our strengths. You could say that in fact we are choosing the positive approach as a way onwards.
To overcome pain is not to somehow fight it or to mask the true cause by taking medication. You can’t fight yourself after all. You are your pain as much as any other part or dimension of you. The pain is characteristic of the person as much as their humour or their posturing. Pain is not about tissues or pathology, it is about a perception or prediction of possible danger or threat. To overcome pain is to face the challenge, learn about pain, learn about yourself and how the pain emerges in you, and then transform the experience using practical tools that focus on what you want: your picture of success.
It is not unacceptable for the approach to pain to revolve around medicine. We know too much about what pain really is, what it is for and why we experience persistent or chronic pain. We know that people can get better, lead fulfilling lives and build on their wellness by understanding their pain and what they must do themselves to overcome pain. There is a choice to be had and society need to know that this choice exists. UP strives for the choice to ‘come alive’ across the globe, and we will work tirelessly so that each person can reach their potential for a healthy and happy life.
UP works on a 1 for 1 basis, which means that for each paid workshop delivered, one is provided to the local community within their environment. Please contact us with the form below if you would like to arrange a workshop in your area
“Thank you very much for today. It was a real privilege to attend”
I was delighted that we filled all the places and had to add several more for the CRPS workshop on Monday. It was an excellent afternoon with a really engaged group, keen to understand and know what they can do to move onward. That is the premise for Understand Pain and Pain Coach Workshops, where we deepen our knowledge of pain so that we can focus on what we CAN to be successful and get results.
This was the first UP & CRPS UK workshop at Royds Withy King in Bath, and based on the demand and feedback, we will be rolling out future dates across the UK. We will also be extending the workshops to a day so that we can have even more experiences of success together. The day is all about taking action and having the experience of what that is like, driving and motivating change in your desired direction.
The popular practices we looked at included the mindful practices that can be used in different ways to create calm, insight and focus, the ‘check in’, and journalising. We followed the way that I do in sessions with people 1:1, starting with the vision, strengths and values. This attunes the person to where they are going and the characteristics they possess to use to get there. Over the afternoon we covered the key areas:
The practices that constitute a lived programme that interweaves into the person’s life, whilst they live their life as a means to overcoming pain — becoming a self coach and a self leader
The three main features of the workshops are simple and digestible:
The model of success ~ how we can be successful
Strengths based coaching ~ how to get the best of you
The pinnacle of our knowledge of pain ~ understand pain to change pain
There is no reason why we can’t address pain, learn, transform, and have fun at the same time!
Here are some more comments:
What did people most enjoy?
“being in a space to acknowledge pain, guilt free”
“Richmond especially, extremely brilliant way with him”
“lovely delivery style”
“the way the workshop was presented”
“good explanations. Simple to understand”
“I did not expect to be challenged as much as I am now following the workshop — positively”
“interactive nature of the event”
Come and join us next time!
Future events driving social change
For release in September ~ In conversation: Rich and Pete talk pain. A series of short videos focusing on the key areas of pain. See Pain Coach and Physiotherapist Richmond Stace + Pain Toolkit’s Pete Moore in relaxed conversation. My aim is to create a community so that we can drive social change via new thinking based on new understanding of pain and the action we must take as a society. This is just the beginning. Join us!
Understand Pain & Pain Coach Talk ~ Weds 4th October 2017 at The Royal Society of Medicine ~ click here to book
Understand Pain & Pain Coach Workshop for Clinicians and Therapists ~ Thursday 5th October 2017 in New Malden, Surrey ~ click here to book
Delivering knowledge, skills and know how to people in need
On Monday 31st July I will be working with CRPS UK to deliver a workshop for people suffering complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). This is the fundamental work of UP, to provide not only education but how to use the new knowledge effectively to get results.
Our focus is on change and moving onward by engaging in positive work. This is our work at UP as we seek to inspire, empower and enable individuals and society at large to live well and with meaning.
Human beings are incredible. We have such great potential. Our ability to learn, adapt, and transform ourselves means that we can decide to commit to the skills of well-being and reap the rewards. We are designed to change. We just need to decide upon the direction. What is your picture of success? What do you want your life to be like? These are the questions we pose in using a strengths based coaching approach to overcoming pain.
The workshop this month in Bath will be proactive, interactive and full of practices for the participants to take away and use with immediate effect.
The purpose of UP is to provide knowledge, skills and know-how to people who need to understand pain. With pain being the number one global health burden, this is a huge number of individuals in many different circumstances. We are not limiting ourselves at UP as we seek to grow quickly in order to reach across society and the globe to tackle this crisis. Our vision is a world where pain is understood and hence addressed effectively by individuals, society and healthcare.
We believe in the potential of this vast group of people across the world. They represent an incredible resource if only pain were understood, allowing for meaningful, fulfilling and useful living. Imagine the resources that would be available! The picture we see is society moving onwards, evolving and growing with a great sense of community.
UP delivers a range of workshops. To:
People suffering chronic and complex pain and their carers
Clinicians, therapists and allied heath professionals
Others who must understand pain as part of their professional role; e.g. medico-legal lawyers, policy makers, commissioners.
How does it work?
UP has different channels of provision. For each paid workshop we provide a workshop to a community or patient group. This means that those who are paying for their place or companies/organisations purchasing a workshop, are not only growing themselves but also society. This together with free places for the next generation of clinicians and therapists at each Pain Coach Workshop means we are building the knowledge and skills base together as a community.
Keep up to date by signing up to the Pain Physio Blog, the UP blog or sending me your email address to join the newsletter. The purpose of the blogs and newsletters is to advance our thinking as a society. As you will see if you sign up, overcoming pain is not by only focusing on treatment for pain, but by developing the skills of living and wellbeing. And the exciting thing about that, is that this is all about living well and performing our best. Do you want to be the best you? I know the answer to that! So join us and let’s understand pain and live life.