Pain Management: An easy thing to do when someone is experiencing pain, is to do a rep system shift and then alter submodalities. That might sound complex, but it’s really easy. Here’s how…
The 3 big rep systems (internal thinking types) are feeling, imagery and sound. We all think using visual thoughts (internal pictures and movies), internal dialog and other sounds, and the sounds and images result in feelings (both emotions, and physical sensations).
Shifting Rep Systems
The first step is to shift representational systems. Pain is kinesthetic (a feeling). We want to shift it to auditory (sound) or visual (imagery). I usually just ask people to give me a metaphor for their pain. Often, they’ll say it’s something like a red, hot poker, or a tight black ball, or a harsh buzzing sound. I can work with those.
If they don’t have a ready metaphor, ask what their pain would look, or sound like, if it were imagery, or a sound. If they can’t think of anything, tell them to pretend they can 🙂
Submodalities & Pain Management
Now that we’ve shifted to a different rep system, it’s time to work with the submodalities. Submodalities are simply qualities of the modalities. Color and brightness are submodalities or the visual rep system. Loudness and tone are auditory submodalities.
So, change any submodality that seems like it might change things, and see what happens. For instance, you might have them shift the red-hot poker to cool blue. If it’s a metaphor, you can work with the metaphor. Have them imagine what the tight black ball would look like if it loosened up. Have them mellow the sound of the harsh bussing, and/or turn it down.
How Did That Change Their Level Of Comfort?
Then, you check to see where their level of comfort is. Often, at this point, I move away from the word “pain” and go either with “comfort”, or “sensation”. Often, you’ll find the pain has decreased significantly.
What This Does And Doesn’t Do
This technique is a quick way to get clients a sense of control, and to buy into the idea that their mind can have an effect on a very real, physical symptom. It’s not necessarily the be-all and end-all of pain control. But it’s a nice start 🙂
PS: You can use this same, simple technique with other disturbing sensations, including emotional pain.