Pain Relief

Pain is NOT Just Pain

Chronic pain is not just physical hurt; it is a whole lot more. Pain affects your thoughts, your moods, your relationships, your motivation and ability to work, your ability to experience pleasure, and your view of yourself. Research shows that these psychological and social factors are more predictive of your long-term adjustment to chronic pain than is the severity of your physical pain or the extent of your injuries.

It was very frustrating for me (Bruce) to experience healthcare professionals as well as my friends and family questioning if I really was in that much pain. I was reminded repeatedly that I looked okay. They could not see my pain as I did not wear it on my sleeves. I did not broadcast it. Plus, I was the only person who could feel my pain. Others told me, directly or indirectly, that I should just “snap out of it” and “get back to work”. I felt alienated, and developed resentments.

I discovered that my use of the self-help tools of self-hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, focused imagery, relaxation techniques, and cognitive-behavior therapy became life-saving for me. I have also helped hundreds of patients cope better with their chronic pain by teaching them how to use these powerful yet gentle and respectful tools after I thoroughly assessed each patient from a psychological perspective.

Pain Relief

Coping With Daily Lumbar Strain

One of my patients, a 55 year old lady, reported she has had bad pain days since her last visit. She has had annoying and biting back pain in her right lumbar area, and radiating right leg pain with some numbness. Her right sided lumbar pain is flared up by household chores such as washing dishes, taking out the trash, as well as by ADLs such as donning her shoes–all activities that involve leaning forward and bending.

MRI of the lumbar spine showed:

  1. Advanced lumbar spondylosis. Findings include a moderate sized right subarticular and foraminal disc herniation at L5-S1 causing significant impingement of the traversing right S1 nerve root.
  2. Small central disc herniation at L4-L5 without mass effect on the nerve roots.
  3. Left foraminal and far lateral disc herniation at L3-L4 displacing the exiting left L3 nerve root.

HISTORY: Low back pain radiating to left leg. History of lumbar spine surgery at L4-L5 and L5-S1. Two back surgeries and both have helped. Epidural steroid injections never helped she stated.

MEDCATIONS:  Depakote from 1500mg hs. Ambien 1mg hs. Neurontin 300mg hs. Vicodin 5/500 mg tid.


After reviewing her use of her pain meds, we moved on to challenging disabling and pain magnifying thoughts. As she verbalized each thought, I offered her a different way of looking at the situation. That is we “reframed” the negative thoughts.

We talked about coping techniques. We used Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) strategies to address her anger that flares up when she hurts. We talked about pacing and taking breaks. I demonstrated and had her do some simple back stretches. We talked about self-postural adjustment. The idea is that it’s not either/or move or not move. That is not an option. We discussed her need to stretch her back out regularly as she becomes aware of the strain building in her low back. I emphasized that she would do well to consider taking planned time outs to care for her back.

I also gave the patient a handout with the following coping self statements:

  1. When my pain flares up, I remind myself that I can adjust my posture and take more breaks. I can stretch.
  2. I expect up and downs.
  3. I will always have a back up plan.
Pain Relief

What Does A Pain Psychologist Do?

This is a brief summary of what I do as a Pain Psychologist in my private practice.

I assume you are here because you suffer from chronic pain, or you want to help someone else who does. I am a licensed and board certified clinical psychologist and I specialize in clinical pain management. I have been doing this work since 1991. I provide counseling, psychotherapy, clinical hypnosis, hypnotherapy, and psychological evaluations. I also teach people self help strategies for pain management. In fact, I myself suffer from chronic pain. I have Fibromyalgia, Sjogrens Syndrome, Spinal Stenosis, Scoliosis, Degenerative Disc Disease, and multiple disc bulges.

My goal is to help you better manage your chronic pain and associated emotional stress. I do this with people everyday and I employ a variety of non-drug modalities — e.g., education, talk therapy, guidance counseling, problem solving therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation therapy, energy healing, and clinical hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

Pain Management Psychotherapy (PMP) counseling sessions are 50 minutes in length for a regular session, and 100 minutes for an extended session. Your first visit with me is an initial consultation. PMP counseling is subsequently provided based on an individualized treatment plan formulated at your first visit.

Common issues that are addressed in PMP counseling include:

  • Discovering safe and effective non-drug methods, such as hypnosis, that can relieve your pain
  • Evaluating and treating any depression and anxiety that can make pain worse
  • Improving your pain coping and stress management strategies
  • Helping you learn effective relaxation skills and self hypnosis for pain management
  • Helping you eliminate self defeating habits
  • Educating you about the proper and safe use of pain medications
  • Evaluating and treating any anger issues and feelings of isolation or alienation
  • Coming up with a plan to improve your physical functioning,
  • Helping you improve your interpersonal relationships
  • Helping you decrease and control mood swings
  • Helping you deal more effectively with family tensions
  • Diminishing boredom
  • Addressing any substance abuse issues
  • Resolving any emotional issues that may underly and maintain your persistent pain.


* * * Everyone needs help at some point. Thank you for coming here for help. * * *