Supportive, stable romantic relationships can help buffer some of the negative effects of chronic pain (depression, financial stress). In our research, however, we've noticed that physical intimacy can be a challenging area to navigate for persons with chronic pain. Kendra Wasson and Laurel Kasper, two of our lab's fantastic undergraduate student researchers, and Lyndsay (doctoral student) are hoping to present their research at this year's Canadian Sex Research Forum in Quebec City! This is a great way to stimulate discussion about this important part of many relationships that often get dismissed for persons with pain! Fingers crossed!
Sex is an important part of many relationships- including those affected by chronic pain!
The research we do in our lab affords us many opportunities to speak with persons who experience chronic pain. It's actually quite rare to find one that isn't aware of at least one negative stereotype about persons with pain. Dr. Diane LaChapelle, our lab director, has actually done quite a bit of research on this topic. Rather that re-invent the wheel, we've attached a link to the article for those wishing to learn more! Just click the Chatelaine bunny to see the article "The scary truth about our pain problem". Thanks to Chatelaine for covering this important topic!
Clinical Psychology Ph.D. students are offering a Self-Care Workshop for all graduate students on 7 April 2016 from 11-2pm (RSVP c.belu@unb,ca) or on April 14 from 4pm-7pm (RSVP to alyssa.mabey@UNB.ca). This workshop will be in Snodgrass Lounge in Keirstead Hall. This workshop is free of charge but pre-registration is requested due to space limitations. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by 4 April 2016. These workshops will be offered all summer and fall but if there is a certain time that works best for you please let us know.
What is self-care?
Register to attend Lab Director Diane LaChapelle's upcoming presentation"Accepting your chronic illness"
We are investigating the relationship between aspects of health and romantic relationship well-being, and are looking for volunteers to complete a series of questionnaires.
If you are Canadian and at least 18 years old, or American and at least 21 years old, you are eligible to participate. Since the questionnaires can be done online, the study is open to all consenting adults.
In the questionnaires you will be asked for a little bit of information about you (e.g., age, gender), any persistent health conditions you may experience, your relationships, and your feelings about yourself. It will take about 30 minutes to complete the questionnaires. Participation is voluntary and all information you choose to share will be kept confidential. All participants will be entered in a draw to receive a $10 honorarium (i.e., a gift card) for their time.
If you are interested in learning more about the study please go to the study website at: https://survey.psyc.unb.ca/HealthAndRelationships.aspx, click below or contact Lyndsay Crump (doctoral student in clinical psychology), Rehabilitation Psychology Research Laboratory (University of New Brunswick) at rehablabUNB@gmail.com. Please note that getting more information about this study does not obligate you to participate. This project has received ethics approval from the University of New Brunswick (REB 2015-120).
Chronic pain? Would you like to learn strategies for better managing it? Free individual therapy opportunity for New Brunswickers!!
Dr. LaChapelle, a licensed clinical health psychologist, will be teaching an advanced skills course to senior clinical graduate students in the Doctoral Psychology Program at the University of New Brunswick. As part of this course, the student therapists will each provide a maximum of 8 individual therapy sessions to volunteers with chronic pain. Dr. LaChapelle will closely supervise all of the students’ work and there will be no cost to the volunteers.
Volunteer Requirements: Volunteers should be English speaking adults (18 years of age or over) who have been experiencing chronic physical pain (of any type) for three months or longer. Those experiencing mild to moderate levels of depression or anxiety are likely to benefit the most from therapy. For students to maximize their learning experiences and for volunteers to maximize the benefits they achieve in therapy, volunteers need to commit to attending eight sessions between February 1st and April 10th (excluding the week of March 7th, which is March Break for the school systems). All therapy sessions will take place at the Psychological Wellness Centre (http://www.unb.ca/fredericton/arts/centres/pwc/index.html) on the UNB campus. Appointments will be scheduled at the volunteer’s convenience (day and evening appointments will be available).
Focus of Therapy Sessions: The overall focus of psychotherapy for chronic pain is to reduce distress and maximize quality of life despite pain. While therapy can help people better manage their pain by reducing the frequency of pain flare-ups and lowering the overall intensity of their pain level, elimination of pain is not a realistic goal. Volunteers can expect therapy to progress as follows: The first session will focus on assessing the nature of the volunteers’ pain experiences, their emotional responses to the pain, and how they are currently coping. The second session will involve providing volunteers with feedback about the results of their assessment, education about chronic pain and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Pain (http://www.cpa.ca/psychologyfactsheets/), and setting personal therapy goals. The remaining six sessions will focus on developing pain management skills including learning relaxation and cognitive coping strategies and how to plan and pace activities to reduce flare-ups and maximize functioning. The specific focus of each session will be individualized based on each volunteer’s needs and experiences.
For more information about this opportunity please contact Dr. LaChapelle by phone (476-3907) or email (Diane.LaChapelle@unb.ca). Please mention your interest in the “pain course” in your message.
Talking about pain is a challenge for most people. By sharing some of the discussions that happen in our lab (often questions asked by volunteers or junior students), we're hoping to spread a little knowledge and spark further debate on some important issues for persons with pain. Stay tuned for more lab updates and info-sharing!
Megan: What are the challenges for young adults diagnosed with chronic illness in terms of acceptance?
Dr. Diane LaChapelle: Acceptance is an interesting process depending on when you’re diagnosed, because what you have to accept is quite different. In young people, the challenge is in that what they have to accept is different opportunities for where their life can go based on their illness. They’re accepting limited options potentially, but also potentially limiting themselves unnecessarily based on their illness. For adults who are established in their life, what they’re accepting is changes to who they are. For young people, their identity is still forming, so they need to incorporate that illness into their forming identity. I’m not sure that it’s even an acceptance process so much as an additional factor that influences how your identity develops in the first place.
Chris (MA/PhD student Clinical Psychology): When you get a chronic illness as an adult and start losing those pieces of your identity - you can’t go hunting with your friends, or go for runs - you start to lose part of yourself and as a result of those losses you have to grieve. You are losing a big part of yourself. With kids and adolescents, because they’re developing those parts, they’re trying things on, seeing what they like, they can almost fashion their identity so it’s still what they want but they’re not going through that painful loss process.
Diane: Children with a chronic illness incorporate it into their identity quite successfully, and probably better than adults.
Kirsten (PhD student Clinical Psychology): The closer you are to having a fully formed identity, having these goals… when you get chronic pain you have to realize what worked before, the person I was before that did x, y, and z, doesn’t work anymore, so I have to reformulate. I need to come up with a new normal, they need to come up with that and what that means to them. So I think no matter your age, the closer you are to having a fully formed identity, the bigger the challenge will be because the bigger the change will have to be from old to new.
Lyndsay (PhD student Clinical Psychology): This new normal also needs to extend into their expectations for who they should be. Self-discrepancy theory fits really nicely here. We have three views of ourselves: our current self, the self we should be (tied to duties and responsibilities) and the self we aspire or hope to be (ideal self). With pain, people need to not just adjust their view of their current self, but need to adjust other selves as well. When they don’t, these expectations of what they should be and who they hope to be really cause problems - it’s like there’s an impossible standard that isn’t achievable. That can happen at any age as well, but it’s harder to adjust existing goals than it is to incorporate pain into the goals in the first place.
For further information on chronic pain: