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The Power of the Mind in Pain - 2016


The topic this year was selected as we all recognised how much pain and suffering depend on the mind and the emotions and how often this is neglected.

This meeting took place in the fabulous setting of the lakes and fells of Cumbria and we were most fortunate to have a wide ranging group of speakers who brought many creative concepts to the challenge of pain management. Many new people came along both from within the UK and abroad bringing their own new perspectives.

This meeting explored the complexities of these issues and our first speaker Dr David Reilly spoke about his integrative approach, tapping into wellness enhancement and people’s own strengths and self healing abilities.

Sarah Goldingay, a writer and actor spoke about the rituals involved in the therapeutic encounter and the mysteries of how caring is efficacious although we do not fully understand this.

This concept was further developed by Prof Paul Dieppe who spoke about the amazing power of the placebo effect and ‘healing intentions’ in the clinician.

Dr Ann Williamson has used hypnosis and suggestion extensively in her management of people with pain. She explained how empowering the patient to use self hypnosis to access a state where imagery and self -generated suggestion can be most effective. Ann successfully demonstrated the use of imagery on a volunteer from the group by relieving his headache!

Patrick Browning presented his use of group hypnosis for the National Migraine Centre.

Dr Maureen Tilford showed a video on the use of how a virtual reality game has successfully been used during burns dressing changes , reducing the need for high doses of opiates. She also discussed some cases she had treated as a GP using hypnotic techniques.

Mr Eamonn Coveney gave a very entertaining talk about how he has incorporated hypnosis into his work as a general surgeon. He uses brief hypnotic interventions for managing painful interventions and teaching patients self hypnosis to manage both acute and chronic pain.

Dr Tim Johnson brought some ethical dilemmas he had encountered and we all joined in with the discussion and Alistair Turvill presented some of the research on the role of the mind in pain management programmes.

We were delighted to take part in a workshop on the last morning given by a group of 5 professionals from Liverpool University including Josie Billington (CRILS: Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society), Dr Andrew Jones, Dr Jim Ledson and two ‘readers’. The workshop involved the reading of specially selected poetry followed by group discussion about the images and issues we experienced. The pain clinic in Liverpool has been running these groups for people suffering with chronic pain.

We all enjoyed the talks and of course the opportunity to discuss and reflect on each day’s activities.

Despite patchy weather several intrepid members of the group managed some walks and it stayed dry for our early morning tai-chi sessions in the gardens!