When Maggie Phillips and Peter Levine co-authored Freedom from Pain, they aimed to explore what’s been missing from the field’s treatment of chronic pain. Phillips believes that unreleased trauma can hide in the body and manifest as lingering pain that doesn’t respond to conventional medical treatment. For therapists to accomplish what medical doctors can’t, they need to have an understanding of how trauma entwines with chronic pain—and how chronic pain can lead to or exacerbate anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness.

How do you address all this in therapy? In this brief video clip, Phillips outlines the different types of trauma that result in chronic pain.

As Phillips notes, each type of trauma marks a place for therapists to work from as they uncover the origins and history of the client’s pain. “The mind-body connection,” she adds, “is a matter of how your mind and body can often be partners, and physical pain can cause a litany of psychological issues that aren’t conducive to moving forward.” But according to Phillips, an appropriately tailored mind-body approach can help clients discover both the source of their pain and ways to enhance their inner resiliency.

Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.