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  • Writer's pictureJen Meller

What is a Chronic Pain Coach?

Takeaway: Chronic pain can be completely debilitating. However, recent discoveries in neuroscience are giving us groundbreaking new insight into the treatment of chronic pain. By working with a chronic pain support coach, you can find wellness and healing.

person waking up with chronic illness

You are not alone in your experience of chronic pain.

So many people in the world are living with chronic pain right now–and they’re desperate to find answers. Answers from doctors. Medications or treatments to cure them. Anything that could possibly bring a solution to the painful sensations their body has felt or carried for so long.

Chronic pain coaching is often based on the premise that most forms of chronic pain are not caused by physical problems in the body, but rather learned neural pathways in the brain that have developed over time.

This type of pain is also known as neuroplastic pain. Rather than coming from a physical problem in the body it comes from misfiring danger signals in our brain. Neuroplastic pain occurs when our brain misinterprets safe sensations in our body as if they were dangerous. The pain signal in our brain is actually a false alarm. Typically what happens is the false alarm triggers pain, which generates fear, which leads to more pain and more fear in an endless cycle.

Neuroplastic pain is very real, and the experience of this type of pain is often very distressing. The good news is that your brain’s perception and interpretation of the pain can be shifted or rewired. In other words, you have the power to shift your relationship with pain.

Working with a coach can involve teaching your brain to identify and reassess the signals it is receiving from the body. Working with a chronic pain coach is effective in helping people manage their symptoms. In some cases, this type of coaching can even reverse chronic pain.

person with chronic pain

What to expect from working with a coach for chronic pain

Your coach begins by exploring your pain story with curiosity. You'll develop and deepen your ability to notice and look for places of ease within your body. And you'll work to replace a sense of fear around the pain with a sense of safety in the body.

Each person's healing journey is unique. Even if two people have similar experiences with chronic pain, their needs, struggles, strengths, and goals can be different. That's why many coaches take an individualized approach. Coaches aim to cultivate a space where you can feel heard and validated. They want to hear your story and help you discover what works for you-not tell you what to do.

So many people with chronic pain have been dismissed by doctors and other healthcare providers. In fact, the entire health care system often works against people with chronic pain leaving them feeling hopeless and discouraged.

Chronic pain coaches are on a mission to fill that gap. They trust and respect you as the expert of your own experience. While they are here to serve as your sounding board and guide, you're in full control throughout the coaching process.

Since your pain goes beyond your physical symptoms, some coaches can also help you explore the emotional impact of your chronic pain. Your anger, grief, sadness, anxiety, and overwhelm are all welcome in the coaching relationship. Together, you and your coach will make sense of your feelings and discover the connection between your pain and your emotional wellbeing.

Methods that chronic pain coaches may use

When working with clients living with chronic pain, all coaches may take a slightly different approach. However, many coaches believe that addressing the mind-body relationship is essential to healing from chronic pain.

Here are some of the approaches that your coach might use:

  • Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT)

  • Internal Family Systems

  • Somatic Experiencing (SE)

  • Hakomi Somatic Psychotherapy

  • Somatic Embodiment & Regulation Strategies

  • Somatic Trauma Therapy

  • Polyvagal Theory

No matter which specific approaches your coach uses, the coaching role is the same: to help you engage in self management behaviors and process the emotions around living with chronic pain.

What is Pain Reprocessing Therapy and how can it help me?

Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) is a treatment method that can help you retrain your brain’s response to the pain signals throughout your body. Our brains are trained to believe that pain is dangerous. Sometimes that belief is helpful, but other times (as in the case of chronic pain) it does more harm than good.

Thankfully, PRT can help you find a sense of safety and stability in your body. This approach is based in neuroscience and has been shown to be highly effective in clinical trials.

How coaches help people on their chronic pain journey

Healing and growth is a journey, not a destination. Chronic pain coaches are here to help you on that journey. While all coaches may use slightly different approaches, the process is similar. Here's an example of what to expect from the health coaching process.

1. Share

You’ll have the opportunity to share your story with your coach and tell them about your goals and desired outcome. Many patients with chronic pain feel ignored by their providers, but coaches want to make you feel seen.

2. Identify

You and your coach will clearly identify the areas of your life where things feel challenging, the history behind it, and why it’s coming up for you in this moment. Even if you were just diagnosed with chronic pain, chances are that the underlying mechanisms run deep. Together, you and your coach may reflect on your life leading up to this point to better understand your pain.

3. Deepen

Using modalities that resonate best with you, you and your coach will begin the work of going deeper to process the things that need attention. While coaches often use a variety of mind-body techniques, they typically customize treatment plans to each client's unique situation.

4. Grow

You’ll walk away with a greater sense of self-awareness so that you can continue to process and grow in your journey toward wholeness. Healing doesn't happen overnight, but you and your coach can lay the groundwork for ongoing recovery and well being.

chronic illness coach

Who chronic pain coaching can help

Coaching can help people from all walks of life. Whether you have risk factors for chronic pain, are newly diagnosed with chronic pain, or have been constantly fighting your symptoms for years, coaching can help.

You suffer from chronic pain that impacts your day-to-day life.

You want to be able to live without pain. You want to be able to exercise, work, walk–and even just be–without being impacted by pain. Right now, that goal feels so far out of reach that you're not sure what to do.

You’ve tried medications and other interventions without success.

You’ve invested time, energy, and finances into solutions that haven’t worked. You may have even tried incorporating more healthy behaviors, lifestyle changes, or other kinds of self management support without getting the results you hoped for. You’re worn down. You’re hopeful that a solution exists, but feel discouraged.

You’re ready to try an alternative, evidence-based treatment.

Chronic pain coaching helps you train your brain to unlearn “false alarm” signals that your brain has developed over time. It empowers you to be an active participant in your own healing.

person on video call

How chronic pain coaches are different from medical professionals

Coaching isn't a replacement for routine or specialized medical care. However, it can be incredibly helpful for people who haven't benefited from traditional medical approaches or want to supplement their care.

The medical model is a disease-based lens. Typically, medicine is designed to look for problems and treat symptoms. In chronic pain clients, often medical providers cannot find anything wrong; they cannot find or deliver a cure. Unfortunately, providers also often give generic advice for treating chronic pain. How many times have you been told to maintain a normal body weight and focus on obtaining daily sufficient sleep?

Many coaching practices, however, take a holistic approach. Coaches don't want to just help you stop suffering-they want to help you thrive.

Instead of focusing only on physical symptoms or dismissing your experience (no, it's not "all in your head), you and your coach will explore the relationship between your mind and body. This is where true healing can happen.

person smiling

Connecting with a chronic pain support coach can help you find true healing.

I believe that chronic pain (along with emotional pain) lives in the brain and body. After all, both your mind and your physical body have been with you through every life experience you've had-including the most difficult ones.

I've seen firsthand how using an integrated approach can lead to true recovery. Through my own health and wellness journey, I've learned how to tend to deep emotional wounds and trust the wisdom of my body.

Now, I'm passionate about helping others do the same. In my coaching practice, I work with folks like you: people with chronic pain who have tried everything but can't seem to find relief. People who feel disconnected from or betrayed by their own bodies. People who are going through emotional suffering and feeling the physical repercussions.

It's time for a different approach to wellbeing. With mindset shifts, evidence-based practices, and support, you can heal from chronic pain and live a happier, healthier life.

Many of my clients with chronic pain have felt invalidated, disempowered, and discouraged from their experience with the traditional medical system. My goal is to make our virtual coaching sessions a safe space where you can find peace and hope again.

If you're curious to learn more about how chronic pain coaching can help you, I encourage you to reach out. My inbox is always open for questions, comments, and feedback. I look forward to meeting you and discovering how I can help you on your healing journey.

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