When Emotional Hurt Becomes Chronic Pain

Today’s Video: How to Treat Chronic Pain

Rich Simon

Psychotherapy for chronic pain? It’s not an obvious connection to many who live with persistent aches, pangs, and cramps that defy all the usual medical explanations and interventions. To be fair, it’s not a connection a lot of therapists are making either. Using talk therapy to treat chronic pain is still a developing area of our field, and Maggie Phillips is among those leading the way.



Coauthor of Freedom from Pain, Maggie has found that Attachment Theory is a useful framework for understanding the unreleased trauma that often lies at the root of chronic pain. She describes four levels of unreleased trauma that can apply to chronic pain, including “trauma that predates the onset of the condition,” which is where attachment issues may come in.


That’s why Maggie starts her work with clients by asking about not only their present pain, but also their early attachment histories. For example, one of her clients—a 70-year-old man with severe chronic chest and gut pain—lived through a series of disconnections from his father, ex-wife, and daughter that led him to ignore the resulting emotional hurt. After uncovering some of his attachment trauma, Maggie decided to guide him through new experiences of relating to himself and his pain. One breathing exercise, demonstrated in this brief video clip, can be easily incorporated into treating any pain, trauma, anxiety, and attachment injuries.


In her session of the Networker Webcast When Attachment is the Problem, Maggie demonstrates more exercises that any therapist can incorporate into pain and trauma treatment.


When Attachment is the Problem:
Putting Attachment Theory into Practice

Click here for full course details

Topic: Attachment Theory | Anxiety/Depression | Trauma

Tags: attachment issues | chronic pain | psychotherapy | therapist | therapists | therapy | trauma treatment | unreleased trauma

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1 Comment

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 2:44:41 PM | posted by Catherine Boyer LCSW
Excellent taste of important work, especially with the aging of the population, where defenses against trauma may be breaking down. It is never too late to heal. As a psychotherapist and neurofeedback trainer, I find the two to be very complementary, as the brain learns to unwind old trauma-based wiring and disregard signals of pain that are no longer useful. Clients are even more able to implement what they learn in talk therapy.