Physical health, pain and mental health are intricately intertwined, with each having the potential to influence the other. Recognizing the close relationship is crucial. Emotional trauma or unresolved psychological challenges can sometimes manifest as physical pain or discomfort, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as somatization. Therefore, treatment strategies that holistically address both pain and its related psychological challenges are not only preferable but also demonstrably more effective than methods targeting just one dimension.
Our therapists have pioneered an integrative approach that seamlessly merges traditional therapy with hypnosis to address chronic pain and sexual health. Recognizing that these conditions are not just physical ailments but also mental and emotional burdens, our team harnesses the therapeutic power of psychotherapy to delve into underlying psychological factors and potential emotional contributors to pain. Alongside this, hypnosis serves as a potent tool to tap into the subconscious mind, guiding patients to achieve deep states of relaxation, reframe pain perceptions, and promote healing. This dual-faceted approach not only aims to alleviate the physical manifestations of pain but also equips individuals with mental tools and strategies to cope, resulting in a more holistic and lasting relief.
Chronic pain is frequently viewed merely as a medical concern, with many medical professionals overlooking its profound psychological impact. The journey to secure effective medical interventions for chronic pain can be a taxing ordeal, both in terms of time and finances. Even after trying various treatments like medications, steroid injections, TENS units, or physiotherapy, the relentless return of chronic pain can be demoralizing. The barriers it poses to everyday activities, coupled with the recurrent and often unsuccessful pursuit of relief, can lead to feelings of despair and a compromised sense of self-value and identity.
Our therapists specialize in managing chronic pain by integrating mindfulness, hypnotherapy, EMDR and a blend of evidence-based methods including CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and interpersonal therapy. These approaches holistically address the emotional dimensions intertwined with pain. Chronic pain encompasses a spectrum of conditions, from headaches and musculoskeletal discomforts like back and neck pain, to arthritis, neurogenic pain caused by nerve damage, and even psychogenic pain which exists without a clear medical origin. The persistent, debilitating grip of chronic pain can drastically alter one's daily life, restricting everyday tasks, physical activity, social interactions, and peaceful sleep. Often, those grappling with chronic pain may feel increasingly reliant on others, potentially straining relationships and instilling feelings of being a burden to loved ones.
It’s easy to underestimate the impact of psychological factors on pain, since chronic pain is broadly viewed as a purely physical problem. But this widespread belief has caused sufferers of psychogenic pain in particular to be stigmatized and have their experiences invalidated. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines the experience of chronic pain as both a physiological and psychological/emotional phenomenon: Our thoughts and feelings about pain can actually influence our sensory perception at the neural level, which indicates a powerful mind-body connection between pain and our emotions.
This mind-body connection is also found in the vicious cycle between chronic pain and anxiety/depression. In many cases, as a person’s pain increases, their engagement in activity decreases as they attempt to reduce discomfort or prevent reinjury, and this leads to maladaptive thoughts about their limitations and overall situation. The resulting anxiety and depression reinforce their inertia through avoidance and withdrawal, which further perpetuates the physical experience of pain, and in turn, feeds deepening feelings of hopelessness, uncertainty, and despair. Learning how to end this cycle and better manage your experience of chronic pain begins with learning how to identify and regulate your thoughts and emotions.
Chronic pelvic pain and sexual health affect women in various ways and can have an impact on one or more aspects of daily life — including work, school, social, relational, and sexual activities. For instance, sitting for an extended period of time in work meetings, classes, or on an airplane can cause discomfort and make these everyday life moments extremely difficult. It can also be hard to explain why you frequently have to cancel plans or describe to family and friends what is going on. Dating and romantic relationships can cause increased anxiety - and may be difficult to negotiate as a new relationship becomes sexual or as sexual functioning in a long-term relationship changes with a medical issue.
Dr. Karolina Pekala and Dr. Demi Maglio specialize in addressing women's sexual health issues, with a distinct emphasis on assisting women in navigating chronic pelvic pain. This pain might arise from unclear sources or be associated with medical conditions like endometriosis, vulvodynia, vaginismus, pudendal neuralgia, or pelvic floor disorders. The manifestation of this pain can range from discomfort in the vulva, menstrual pain, pain during intercourse, backaches, to muscle tension in the pelvic region, hips, and inner thighs. Various factors, such as clothing seams, bath products, uncomfortable seating, or even unidentified triggers, can initiate the pain, which can be further exacerbated by stress. The pain may persist continually or appear sporadically, and new pain episodes can emerge, especially when the body hasn't fully recovered from a preceding stress event.
While chronic pelvic pain and sexual health are often seen as medical in nature — including antibiotics, a variety of calming topical creams, physical therapy, nerve blocks, or even “just have a glass of wine” — women can find their experiences invalidated when seeking help. It can be discouraging to navigate the medical system, or even worse, to feel that a diagnosis or cure is out of reach.
Research shows that for these disorders, women often end up seeing various specialists, and it can take several years to reach an accurate diagnosis. Managing chronic pain is already difficult and depleting, and this connection between gynecological health and pain makes it more complicated to discuss in our culture.
Dr. Pekala offers an empathetic therapeutic space in which women can discuss their pain openly. Her unique approach blends psychoeducation, pain-minimizing techniques, and a CBT perspective to change the client’s view of pain, which in turn, affects and alleviates the way in which they experience pain.
Dr. Maglio offers a nonjudgmental and safe therapeutic space in which women can openly explore their relationship with pain without fearing judgment. Her integrative approach incorporates pain-minimizing techniques and an acceptance and commitment framework to help clients redefine their relationship with pain, minimize the severity of pain symptoms, increase acceptance, and live a meaningful, value-driven life despite pain.
Dr. Pekala and Dr. Maglio extend their expertise to couples and family members eager to understand these conditions better and effectively support their affected loved ones. Although it might not always be feasible to eradicate pain entirely, their goal is to empower women to reclaim their daily routines, formulate a proactive pain management strategy, and find both physical and emotional solace.
Research demonstrates that an effective way to address chronic pain and sexual health involves not just managing the physical condition but also addressing the accompanying emotional distress. Our therapists employ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain (CBT-CP), a method backed by over three decades of empirical evidence, to address both acute and chronic pain scenarios.
Hypnosis has been studied for many years as a potential treatment for various conditions, including chronic pain. Multiple studies have shown that hypnosis can be effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of pain in individuals with chronic pain conditions. This includes conditions like migraines, tension headaches, fibromyalgia, and arthritis pain. Hypnosis is believed to work on chronic pain by altering the way the brain processes pain signals. Some theories suggest that hypnosis can change the neural pathways responsible for transmitting pain.
Numerous studies highlight that hypnotic induction, paired with relaxation and pain relief suggestions, can markedly reduce pain for many individuals. When compared to other pain management techniques, hypnosis often matches or surpasses their effectiveness. It’s well-researched that the combination of CBT and hypnosis specifically amplify its benefits.
To enhance efficacy, our therapists weave in an array of therapeutic techniques, encompassing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), interpersonal therapy, mindfulness, and hypnosis.
These strategies aid clients in reshaping their perception of pain, fostering acceptance, achieving profound relaxation, and alleviating pain symptoms. Though not an instant remedy, combining hypnosis with these therapies can augment relief by channeling the mind's focus away from pain, helping clients unwind and reduce the psychological distress tethered to their physical discomfort.
Join us in our comprehensive therapeutic program designed to help you overcome chronic pain. We provide supportive insights and effective coping strategies, building resilience, and assisting you in finding comfort and renewed vitality.