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Coping Methods for Families with Someone in Chronic Pain

The impacts of chronic pain reach beyond those affected. Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks and often changes family dynamics. Challenges and role shifts can negatively impact self-images and self-esteem and can lead to guilt, depression, anxiety, resentment and powerlessness. Practicing coping can help families deal with the impacts of chronic pain.  

Generally, coping practices deal with in-the-moment actions and are either problem- or emotional-focused. At New Health Services, we understand that coping, like our treatment, should be comprehensive. We recommend an adaptable, relationship-focused coping approach. While family members might feel overwhelmed and powerless as caregivers, relationship-focused coping emphasizes maintaining high-quality relationships.  

Relationship-Focused Coping

Relationship-focused coping is entirely adaptable per individual and generally includes the needs to communicate, negotiate, compromise and be empathetic. To do this effectively, chronic pain or illness must be viewed as a family problem, not that of just the affected individual nor primary caregiver. After the family accepts the pain as a collective responsibility, it is key to identify the varying coping techniques of each member of the family. Everyone has different coping methods and identification leads to complementing or compromising methods. Regardless of combined coping, it is essential for all family members to reassure unconditional love and genuine concern.  

In relationship-focused coping, some will take the protective buffering strategy, which encourages the avoidance of disagreements. However, this method limits expression and makes members feel constrained in conveying any negative emotions. Thus, families must openly and constructively communicate with one another with active and empathic listening skills. While respecting varying coping methods, family members should continually be mindful of what is being communicated, how it is being said and when it is being said. They must maintain a mindful outlook that is considerate of other perspectives.    

Relationship-focused coping does not only help maintain and foster the relationships of caregiver members but accentuates the needs of the individual in pain. For individuals in chronic pain, not all support is good. Families should consider how the member in pain wants to receive support—some want practical help, to be listened to or to feel strong and capable. To better care for these individuals, everyone in the family needs to be open to asking questions! Most importantly, ask how you can help the member facing chronic pain. They might feel guilty and are not ready to ask for help themselves.  

Coping: The Key to Effective Support

Understanding coping methods for everyone in the family is key to supporting mental wellness associated with chronic pain. It is important to always be genuine, believe in your family, be aware of nonverbal communication and accentuate the positives! Remember, effective coping systems will become less efficient when the family and member in chronic pain do not receive professional help. Choosing a provider who supports your needs and comprehensive wellness is the key to success.  

Contact New Health Services today to learn more about our comprehensive care and how we can help improve your family’s coping methods.