FC2O Episode 16 – Bronnie Lennox Thompson Show Notes

0:00. Introduction

2:39. Bronnie’s journey into her career

Bronnie Lennox Thompson – or “Dr Mum” as she is better known.

6:03. How the ACC System directed Bronnie’s path

7:31. Exported to Burwood!

  • Return to work
  • Yellow Flag Development
  • University of Otago

9:34. Masters in Psychology, 

  • Return to work: WorkAbilities
  • 1) Work Plus Skills
  • 2) Pathfinders 

11:26. PhD: People who live well with ongoing pain

  • Elite athletes with significant pain

13:37. Studying the healthy or the coping, rather than the unhealthy or the non-coping

  • Seeing people only at their worst
Bronnie’s (2019) paper, published in the Journal Disability & Rehabilitation, which captures the key points of her PhD.

18:16. Classical Grounded Theory and Main Concerns

  • Constructivist Grounded Theory
  • Classical – being the Observer (Hypothesis generating)
  • Emergence of order from chaos
  • Pattern recognition

25:10. The Main Concern

  • How can I still be “me”?
  • Re-occupying the self

26:19. Three parts to the process:

  • Making sense
  • Deciding on a new path
  • Flexibly persisting

27:18. Diagnosis – a double-edged sword?

  • Nocebic effect…

29:26. Illness Representation in Low Back Pain

  • Matching the label with the experience
  • Shared representations

30:24. Predicting (prognosis)

  • What’s the impact?
  • Neuropathic pain’s unpredictability
  • Stressors – physical / emotional / mental
  • Can only find out by “doing”
  • Noticing what’s happening… importance of tracking pain
  • Where do I spend my energy?
  • Values

34:10. The 3rdProcess: Occupational Existing

  • People are not looking to the future (Pain Consciousness diagram)
  • Goals are too abstract / removed from the pain experience

36:01. Acting as a bridge to flexibly persisting

  • Being trustworthy, non-judgementally supportive
  • Having an occupation (personally meaningful activity)
Re-occupying the self – from Bronnie’s paper:
Thompson, Gage, Kirk (2019) “Living Well With Chronic Pain – A Classical Grounded Theory”. Disability & Rehabilitation. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2018.1517195

42:47. 13-36% of those experiencing persistent are living well

  • Making coping strategies meaningful

44:36. Non-Judgemental Awareness or Mindfulness

  • Habitual mindfulness
  • Intuiting hurt doesn’t always equal harm

46:21. Doctor Movement

  • Movement for headspace
  • “Sometimes the truth depends upon a walk around the lake” William Stafford
  • Hemispheric integration
  • A bigger picture view and making sense
  • Mindfulness as a means to an end versus “just noticing”

49:37. Doing anything that helps

  • Idiosyncratic – coloured lights…
  • The problem with “pacing”
  • Flexibility versus Prescription – based on the individual’s values

52:33. Contextual Behavioural Science

  • The importance of autonomy in behaviour moment to moment
  • Choice points and making time for activity and recovery

54:57. Listening to themselves better in the context of their new sense of self

  • Alignment with values
  • ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy)
  • Enhancing awareness of pushing and what thoughts / feelings emerge when you don’t…
  • Managing value conflicts

57:50. Self-concept:

  • What we do
  • Why we do it
  • How other people respond to us
  • What makes you feel most like your self
  • Resolution…

59:21. Biopsychosocial element

  • Higher incidence of persistent pain in women
  • Maternal drives
  • Gender differences in rehabilitation
  • The ability to say “No”

1:04:32. Reoccupying a sense of “self”

  • Recognising it’s a process
  • Being definitive that pain is not going to go
  • Probability – tempering the search for “being who I used to be”

1:07:58. Acceptance and giving up hope

  • Permission to reinvent
  • The Chinese (sometimes Mexican) Finger Trap… putting life on hold
  • Demoralised
  • What is it about your (former) passion that matters to you?
  • Identifying the underlying values is where the therapy happens

1:11:54. Exercise versus Movement

1:13:12. A problem with pain Neuroscience?

  • Not a stand-alone, but fits with “making sense”
  • Information alone does not change behaviour
  • Readiness: somebody on my side; a reason to get on with something that matters; I know what’s going on; I can predict it.

1:15:58. Part of the pain experience is allowing others to understand your pain.

  • Pain Measures (eg visual analogue scales) conflated with Pain Behaviour 
  • Change the behaviour
  • Pain measure doesn’t change disability

1:17:45. Most people seek help when pain interferes with important activity

  • The focus has to be more about health
  • Behaviour, not education, changes disability
  • Learn by doing, not by talking

1:21:07. From Bronnie’s website:

So… what does a good occupational therapist offer in pain rehabilitation? These are only some of the things I’ve contributed over the years:

  • graded exposure in daily life contexts like the shopping mall, supermarket, walking at the beach, fishing, catching a bus, driving
  • self regulation using biofeedback, hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation in daily life contexts like getting off to sleep, at work in between clients, while doing the grocery shopping, while driving
  • effective communication with partners, children, employers, co-workers, health professionals in daily life contexts 
  • guided discovery of factors that increase and reduce pain in daily life contexts like the end of a working day, over the weekend, at the rugby, in the pub, on your own, in a crowd, at home
  • information on proposed neurobiological mechanisms as they influence pain and doing/participating in daily life contexts, things like attention capture, distraction, memory, emotions, stress, excitement
  • values clarification about what is important to a person’s sense of who they are in their daily life
  • progressive meaningful movement in daily life contexts
  • goal setting, planning, managing and progressing overall activity levels in daily life
  • positive, pleasurable activities to boost mood, reduce anxiety and live a life more like the person wants

1:22:03. Identify what’s important – values

  • What do you like to do?
  • Take me through a 24 hour day
  • What’s your theory?
  • How have they got to where they’ve got to?
  • What’s their main concern?

1:25:57. Distinction between CBT & ACT

  • Noticing
  • Does this action take you closer to being youor further away?
  • Fluidity

1:27:26. Health Professionals ideals…

  • The wounded healer
  • Fitting the patient to our model… versus the patient’s model – what’s important to them?
  • Let the person what’s important to them?
  • Asking the person “What do youthink is the next best step?”
  • Offering help without driving the solution

1:31:20. Making sense before setting bigger goals

  • Meeting the individual where they’re at
  • Sleep / rest, Diet, Movement, Fun
Paul Chek’s 4 Doctors Model

1:33:15. The 4 Doctors

  • Dr Diet
  • Dr Quiet
  • Dr Happiness
  • Dr Movement

1:34:11. Bronnie’s 5thDoctor: Dr Purpose

  • Purpose from immediate purpose to longer-term purpose
  • Be your own expert on your self

1:35:10. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

  • The need to relate
  • The need for autonomy
  • What are the doingthings that matter?
  • The drive to create
  • What would you be doing of pain was less of an issue for you?

1:37:40. How to find out more or get in contact with Bronnie

  • Courses
  • Blog
  • Exploring Pain Facebook Forum

1:41:01. Closing comments

If you’d like to learn more about Bronnie’s work, or to get directly in touch, please head to her website here.

In March 2020, I’m heading out to Bronnie’s home-turf – New Zealand – to put on a 2-day Seminar to help health and fitness professionals better understand how to facilitate a return to optimal function for people experiencing persistent pain. I will be applying some of Bronnie’s amazing work using evolutionary modelling, and expanding on the information presented in the “Ghost in the Machine” papers* I wrote with Paul Chek. If you’re local, I hope our paths will cross there!

To find out more or to book your place, head to this link.

*NOTE: this paper is usually behind a $31.50 pay-wall, but has been made available for free by Elsevier at this moment in time.