Pain Talking: exploring the experience, expression and description of chronic pain through creative processes and visualisation strategies

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Explaining and quantifying the feeling and experience of living with chronic pain presents a particularly challenging task. Young people and children who suffer with chronic or persistent long-term pain, and their families or close support networks regularly describe difficulties in finding ways to effectively explain the experience of pain to others (Logan et al., 2012). This can lead to young people feeling different and misunderstood and can make it difficult to seek appropriate support. This project describes a pilot study utilising workshop-based creative activities to assist the process of describing and communicating what it is to have chronic pain. Pain management programs work with young people to educate them on what chronic pain is, why it occurs and to identify how pain is personally affecting them. These programs generally use a multidisciplinary approach, routinely drawing on verbal discussions, paper-based information and visual and physical activities to collaboratively address the problem of managing chronic pain. Feedback shows that these approaches are helpful, with young people often feeling better understood during sessions and gradually within schools and their broader communities. During the workshop, young people used creative techniques to describe their pain experiences and collectively reflected upon the methods in relation to how they might support current pain management programs. The research contributes to the field by utilising a number of bespoke digital and analogue creative processes and visualisation strategies to explore if it possible to enhance the individual experience of coping with chronic pain by offering more accessible ways of explaining pain to others.

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