Before we start, I will ask you to read and sign a consent form which describes your rights to privacy.
Our first session will probably start with an invitation to you to ask any questions or to express any concerns you may have and we can talk about how you feel about starting therapy. If you are feeling very anxious, there are some simple things we can do to help you feel more settled.
If you have chronic pain or another chronic physical condition, it’s absolutely essential that you have undergone thorough assessments by doctors and other allied health professionals (as necessary) to try to identify physical causes for your condition. We can start therapy while your doctors are investigating or treating you, but it's very important that any possible causes for your condition are thoroughly investigated.
For those with long-term chronic pain or a chronic health problem without a clear cause, the first one to two sessions will involve a comprehensive assessment of the current and past behaviours and experiences that may impact your well-being.
An explanation for what you are experiencing
Usually, the next step is for me to offer a general explanation of how trauma / prolonged stress / intense distress can cause chronic pain or other trauma-related conditions without there being a detectable physical cause. There is a physiological cause for your pain, it’s just that we don’t have a reliable way of detecting it yet. You will never hear me say that “You are imagining it”, “It’s all in your head”, or “It’s psychosomatic”. I have had my own experience of trauma-related chronic pain and I understand that your pain is very real.
From a more general explanation, I’ll offer my thoughts on what might be the more specific causes of your condition and I will suggest which treatment modality I think will be most helpful. There will be plenty of time for discussion about the pros and cons of the different modalities and your preferences. They are similar in that they all work directly with your nervous system, which is the best way to treat trauma. However, there are also significant differences among them. Having a range of choices means that I can tailor treatment to your needs and experiences, aiming for effective and efficient therapy.
What actually happens during therapy?
The therapies used for healing trauma, chronic pain and other chronic health conditions work with the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This is the branch of the nervous system that controls our heart, breathing, blood pressure, immune system, hormonal system and our organs and does a myriad of tasks to keep our body working properly.
The ANS is also constantly on the lookout for potential threats to our life or well-being. When it decides a dangerous threat is approaching, it completely takes over all of our functions.