Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wickman, Scott A.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Mental health; Counseling Psychology


Chronic pain is an epidemic societal problem that mental health providers must respond to with skills and expertise. Chronic pain is effectively understood via a biopsychosocial model. Mental health providers are necessary to treat the psychological and social factors associated with chronic pain and work in conjunction with medical providers. This study discovered insights about chronic pain sufferers lived experiences, relationships with family and pets, and perspectives about receiving mental health services. Themes found were Turbulent Emotional Experiences, Rejection Wounds, Fear, Love Found, Healing Affection and Attention, Medicinal Marijuana, and Fuzzy Confusion . Themes suggested turbulent and traumatic parenting relationships and emotions are associated with chronic pain. Participants experienced multiple rejections from close relationships and suffered with impaired self-concept. Close partner and pet relationships that involve love, acceptance, and empathy are valuable to chronic pain sufferers. Pet relationships provided healing and pain relief for sufferers via benevolent affection and attention. Marijuana was found helpful for sleep and relieving chronic pain and anxiety. Participants supported the need for mental health providers to use non-judgmental and empathic listening. Practices for increased awareness and training about chronic pain in counselor education programs and clinical implications for counselors are provided. Future directions for research and parenting education are discussed.


Advisors: Scott A. Wickman.||Committee members: Cynthia Campbell; Teresa A. Fisher.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


254 pages




Northern Illinois University

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