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How To Use The Mind To Overcome Chronic Pain By Combining Pain Education, Mindfulness, And Acceptance And Commitment Therapy With Joe Tatta, PT, DPT
I’m excited to talk to you because it marks the launch of my latest book called Radical Relief: A Guide To Overcome Chronic Pain. That book is based on the founding principles of pain neuroscience education, mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the treatment of chronic pain. It’s available on Amazon. You can find it in most countries. They’ll deliver it right to your doorstep. I want to tell you why I wrote the book, what it’s about and how you can use it, whether you’re someone who struggles with pain or you’re a practitioner who’s treating chronic pain in your clinic.
As many of you know, the focus of the work I do at the Integrative Pain Science Institute is to provide evidence-based treatment for chronic pain. I do engage in a little bit of pain research. I was lucky enough to be a part of a team that discussed how nutrition can be used to treat chronic pain. I also train professionals on how to use biopsychosocial interventions for the treatment of pain. Years ago, my first book came out, which is called Heal Your Pain Now, and that book took an integrative or multimodal approach for the treatment of chronic pain.
There are some parts in that book that focus on diet and nutrition, exercise and physical activity, and what I called the brain in pain. Many people engaged with that book, both professionals as well as people living with pain. They’ve learned a lot. They’ve been able to implement some healthy exercises and physical activities. They have changed their diet and they learned a lot about the influence of the mind or the brain with regard to chronic pain. With any book, there are limitations. That book I wrote was about 340 pages, so it’s a big book to digest whether you’re a practitioner or you’re someone living with pain.
The challenge I have with that book is I wrote about the brain and pain or the mind in a way that was a little more didactic. I gave people information but I didn’t give them how-to information because I couldn’t fit it in the book. The publisher gave me a word count in the page limit, so I had to dial that down. What developed from that first book, and I’ve received many emails and instant message requests on social media was, “I want to learn more about the brain in pain, about the mind, the mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy,” which was mentioned in that first book, but I feel it deserved its own time in the sun and to talk about those techniques, methods, and to give people good take home. That’s how the evolution of my second book came about.
First and foremost, my book is written for physical therapists and how they can start to take principles of mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and use it in clinical practice. It’s useful if you’re a mental health professional, social worker, counselor, psychologist, physician or nurse, and you’re interested in learning more. It starts to look at pain and the psychosocial variables and say, “How can I implement this into practice no matter what type of licensed health professional I am?”
As I mentioned before, this is an evidence-based approach for the treatment of pain using the brain and the mind, if you will. It focuses on three key aspects: pain and neuroscience education, mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It follows the best evidence we have now with regard to the psychological approaches for the treatment of pain. That is combining pain education, some form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which ACT is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and then some type of physical activity engagement.
How much of each do you get in this book, even those three topics are a lot to digest? I look at this as an ice cream sundae. The base of the ice cream sundae is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This book is deeply rooted in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. On top of that, there’s a little bit of whipped cream. I look at that whipped cream as mindfulness. On top of that whipped cream is the cherry on top. The cherry on top is pain education. What that means is if you’re looking at the table of contents, the first two chapters are based on pain education and then the rest of the book is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Part of ACT is mindfulness. I also have some traditional mindfulness exercises in here. I believe they fit very well with a psychologically informed approach to pain that can be used easily by a physical therapist or other licensed health professionals. The book has 36 chapters. That can be a little off-putting both for people with pain, as well as practitioners because it sounds like a lot to read. I want to drill this one point home. This book is only 100 pages. It’s a workbook. I specifically wrote this to be a short, concise workbook and guide because unlike my first book, which was 350 pages, people with pain don’t want to sift through 350 pages to figure out, “What’s the cause of my pain and what can I do to help myself?”
Even for practitioners, we don’t have the time necessarily to sift through 350 pages, so I’ve made this short and concise for the professionals as well. Even though there are 36 chapters, each chapter is only between 2 to 3 pages maximum. Within each chapter, there are somewhere between 1 to 3 cognitive or mental skills training exercises that you can employ now whether you’re someone living with pain or you’re a practitioner who wants to take this back to the clinic and use it with your patient. At the end of the book, you’re presented with over 50 cognitive and mindfulness-type exercises you can use for the treatment of chronic pain.
What I’m trying to say is that the book was designed to be useful, approachable, and I have left out any of the technical jargon and theory. If you’re a practitioner and you’re interested in that, I did include a section in the beginning of the book which is called A Guide For Professionals And How You Can Embrace The ACT Model For Pain. In that chapter, which is a little bit longer, I do go into the foundational theories and principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy specifically the psychological flexibility model, the core processes and what that means.
Those psychological skills and processes are present in every single chapter throughout the book. I don’t point them out because I want you to be able to move through the book in a way that’s fluid. By the time you get to the end of the book, you have gone through a little bit of pain neuroscience education, so we work on the reconceptualization of pain and you’ll go on through all the different types of processes and exercises with regards to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. You can order this book on Amazon, put in Radical Relief by Joe Tatta, and it should come right up.
Here’s how I recommend you approach this book. Even though it’s smaller and only 100 pages, there’s still deep profound knowledge and training within the pages of this book. With that, this is not the type of book that you sit down and you read in one sitting on a Saturday, starting at 9:00 in the morning and finishing 6:00 in the evening. I recommend that you set aside a little bit of time each day to read 1 or 2 chapters at the most. At the end of the chapter, there are either 1 or 2 exercises in there, take the time to experience the exercise yourself. Experience that exercise, whether you’re someone who’s loving with pain or you’re a practitioner and you’re interested in learning more.
That’s one of the most important parts of this book because ACT and mindfulness are an experiential approach to pain. You have to experience it in your mind, body and soul to take root and for it to work. When you receive the book, if you’re someone who’s living with pain, what I recommend you to do is read the introduction. If you’re a professional and you received the book, go right to the Guide for Professionals. Once you’ve done that, set-aside time where you can read one chapter per day. If you work through it one chapter per day, it’ll take you about a month to complete the book.
That’s not very long because you went through a course of physical therapy, psychology, social worker, or anyone else, it’ll take you at least a month to work through the protocols they’re working on. In essence, you can look at this like a protocol that’s specific on how to use the mind to overcome chronic pain. Since I mentioned the word protocol, I’ll turn and focus on the practitioners and researchers for a moment. Because this builds off the core skills of psychological flexibility, you can use this for individual treatment, group treatment or group program, whether that’s online or offline.
You can also use this book to develop your own protocol if you want to run a randomized control trial or use it in clinical research. As you read the book, you’ll be able to see how I work in cognitive fusion and acceptance, self as context, and present moment awareness. At the very end of the book, I work in values and committed action. That’s the way the book transitions. If you’re familiar with the ACT model, you’ll be able to recognize that and notice that as you work through the book. As some of you know, I do have a program where you can learn ACT of Chronic Pain online at the Integrative Pain Science Institute, but I’ve given this copy to a couple of people that graduate from my program. They have received early advanced copies. They’ve read this and they’ve started to use this in clinical practice already. This is being used as a tool in a number of different clinical settings. I’m going to be rolling out an entire Radical Relief Podcast series where I interview researchers, professionals and academics, who are using the principles of this book, pain neuroscience education, mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy either in their practice, research or academia.
I want to take the time to mention these professionals by name and to give you a sneak peak of what they’ll be talking about on the upcoming episode. On January 6, 2021, we have Adriaan Louw who’ll be talking about Pain Neuroscience Education Plus, followed by Physiotherapist Davide Lanfranco. He’s a Physiotherapist who now lives in the UK, who uses ACT and combines it with physiotherapy and out-patient orthopedic setting. He’s followed by Mary Doyle who is a physical therapist in the State of Delaware and combines her physical therapy practice with principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She delivers that to a very specific patient population where she works with prisoners who are in jail. It’s an important population that can benefit from psychosocial skills training. We have Annette Willgens who is a professor of Physical Therapy. She uses mindfulness and she teaches mindfulness through her physical therapy students, followed by ACT Psychologist Lilian Dindo who is using ACT in a form of a one-day ACT workshop. There’s important information there that I encourage people to access and listen to.
Physiotherapist Mary Grant who is in Ireland, she combines Cognitive Functional Therapy with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Then physiotherapist and pain researcher Javier Martinez-Calderon, who researches the psychological factors related to chronic pain. That’s a sneak peak of who is coming up to the Radical Relief Podcast series, all focused on how we can use the mind and mental skills training to overcome chronic pain. As we build out the Radical Relief Podcast series, you’ll meet these academics, researchers and clinicians, who are using the principles of the book and in essence, the book in clinical practice.
My biggest aim with this book is that this book becomes your clinical companion in either your practice, research or academia, where you can help train or help introduce those that you know to these solid foundational principles of behavior change that can be found in ACT, pain education and mindfulness as well. As you move into the last chapter of the book, I outline a model or a framework of what I believe we should be teaching people as well as other practitioners about chronic pain and how to help them overcome chronic pain. That framework is what I call the MOVE Principle or the MOVE Approach if you will.
MOVE is an acronym and it stands for Make room for unpleasant sensations, Open up and observe non-judgmentally, Values guide life not pain, and then finally, the E which is Engaged in activities in line with your values. I believe that these are the conditions we need to create and necessary to help people thrive with or without chronic pain. Oftentimes, pain may decide to arch back and come back around. If we continue to train these principles, I believe this is the most effective way that we can help people based on the research and literature that we have now. I’ll be running my ACT course again throughout the year. If you’re a professional and you want to learn more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the treatment of chronic pain, I also have a new program and it’s called Mindfulness-Based Pain Relief. It does use the principles of this book with regard to how you can use mindfulness in clinical practice.
Finally, for those who live with chronic pain, I have a new online program. The name of that program is called Relief. It’s an online mindfulness meditation program that will help you alleviate your pain and suffering. I’m excited to be rolling those three online programs out. To be honest with you, my goal with this book as it was with the first book is that you read it, take the knowledge, go forward and share this with your friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues so we can start to spread the word of how to use safe and effective treatments for chronic pain. You can use the book individually. Let’s say, if you’re a practitioner and you’re working with a group of other practitioners, it’s a great book to order for your colleagues. You can even use it for an in-service or book club where you go through each chapter and discuss them at an in-service or amongst yourselves, and start to use the information with people and help them overcome their pain.
I wanted to share that overview with you. I know many of you have ordered the book already. I appreciate those of you that have ordered it. It has been at the number one spot in chronic pain on Amazon. I’m excited that people are accessing this book. Should you have any questions or comments about the book, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at Support@IntegrativePainScienceInstitute.com. I’d love to hear your feedback. If you like the book, make sure to hop on Amazon, give me a five-star review and say something nice about the book so people can access it, and it can stay in that number one spot on Amazon and chronic pain. I’d love to have more professionals as well as people who are living with pain access this great book. It is a book about chronic pain, but know that chronic pain overlaps with many other types of conditions and disorders especially those that are related to stress, depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction, which is a big factor for those living with chronic pain who have not been provided with appropriate care.
This book is useful for other comorbid conditions or colinear conditions that people living with chronic pain often face. To wrap up, I want to thank all of the professionals who have inspired me over the years to continue doing what I’m doing, especially many of the pain researchers, the pain physiotherapists, and the pain psychologists that are discussing topics like I included here in Radical Relief. I especially want to thank Steven Hayes who gave me a nice testimonial for the back of the book and supported the work. He has always supported me in this work. He has been a distant mentor of mine throughout the years, has encouraged me to continue to use this work for the treatment of pain and to encourage physiotherapists to use it as well.
After reading this book, hopefully, you’ll feel encouraged to use the topics of pain education, mindfulness, and of course Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in your practice. I’d love to hear your feedback. You can send me an email and please give me that five-star review on Amazon. I appreciate it if you find the book useful. We’ll have a lot more about the book and the topic as we go into January and February 2021. You can join the mailing list by going to the IntegrativePainScienceInstitute.com, so you can stay up-to-date on all I’m doing at the Institute. It’s been a pleasure spending time with you. I wish all of you much love and success in the New Year 2021, especially with regards to overcoming chronic pain. Make sure to share this episode with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, wherever anyone is talking about how to use the mind to overcome chronic pain. I wish you well.
- Radical Relief: A Guide To Overcome Chronic Pain
- Heal Your Pain Now
- Mindfulness-Based Pain Relief
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