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Living Beyond Your Pain: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Ease Chronic Pain Paperback – May 3, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


“Chronic pain is like a weed that can take over the landscape of your life if you let it. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. This remarkable and beautifully written book offers a fresh approach to a life defined by chronic pain and its management. Readers will learn how to get out of a life consumed with pain and pain management and back into a life where pain takes a backseat. This book, filled with many well-crafted examples and exercises, will teach you skills that will help you learn to be with your pain and live a vital life. You will learn how to bring compassion and acceptance to your pain and hurt while engaging in actions that you care deeply about. This book is a vital resource for those suffering from chronic pain, their loved ones, and professionals who work to help people who are stuck and suffering in a cycle of pain and misery.”
—John P. Forsyth, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and faculty director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program, State University of New York at Albany

From the Publisher

Using mindfulness-based techniques and cognitive behavioral tools, a leading expert on the use of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) teaches readers to transcend the experience of chronic pain by reconnecting with other, more valued aspects of their lives.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: New Harbinger Publications; 1 Workbook edition (May 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572244097
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572244092
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JoAnne Dahl was born 1951 in Bennington Vermont where she spent her first 18 years. During her Earlham College years in Indiana, JoAnne attended a foreign study program in Scandinavia, where she moved after graduating, tempted by love but more so free graduate school. After learning Swedish JoAnne relished the clinical psychology program at Uppsala University in Sweden, followed by clinical work and research in behavioral treatments of physical illnesses, such as epilepsy, intestinal disorders, chronic pain, asthma and obesity. She was the first woman to receive a doctorate in clinical psychology at Uppsala University, 1987. Besides a busy clinical and research schedule, JoAnne has brought up 3 children, mostly as a single mom, who are now grown up but live nearby. After the twin boys graduated and left home, JoAnne sold her home and worked periodically in India and South Africa, bringing effective self-help therapies such as Acceptance and Commitment therapy to poor institutions. JoAnne lives at present in central Uppsala Sweden and holds a tenured professorship at the department of psychology at Uppsala University.
I host a self help psychology radio program focusing on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy called ACT taking hurt to hope. I interview researchers and clinicians from around the world who apply ACT to a great diversity of applications from inside prisons, to Tinnitus and everything in-between. This is free and is a public service. Join us!Here is the link

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By B. F. Thompson on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book uses ACT as a basis for helping a person experiencing persistent pain to live a life full of what is really important rather than with futile attempts to control the uncontrollable.

It's quite easy to follow and has both short and simple readings alongside exercises that can be used to reflect upon the concepts that are introduced.

I think a person experiencing pain would need to be at a certain stage of motivation to be ready to stop seeking pain reduction before beginning on the journey that this approach offers - but if ready, the book certainly covers the ground and is user-friendly enough for most people who read self-help books to follow.

If the person experiencing pain has the support of a therapist either familiar with ACT, or prepared to suspend judgement and follow the process, the process this book uses would work well. I'm not so sure that an individual who was working alone would find it as easy!

As an introductory book for a therapist working in pain management, this book provides great tools to use, and a logical process to follow. It also has some good references if the therapist is keen to read more.

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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Hedy on May 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have an ACT psychologist with three books coming out this year. If it weren't for him, ACT would seem Sadistic. All the workbooks of ACT that I have used are great in theory, but there is something missing in the written works: compassion for yourself. ACT comes across as "Just suck it up and do it anyway." It doesn't give very good resources for managing the pain of depression, PTSD or fibromyaglia. I do love that there is a focus on my values for MYSELF, without any therapist's secret agenda forced on me, and so the therapy is focused on what I value and who I want to be, not my diagnosis. That's ACT's strength. The value and goal focused work is wonderful. The acceptance is great too, but if you did a DBT day program for a week or read an article on Buddhism, you already learned radical acceptance. Unfortunately, ACT in workbooks always comes across as harsh and unsympathetic. My psychologist also agrees - He teaches ACT at a psych grad school and the students even think it sounds cruel, like you just force people to do what makes them feel awful.
If you have a real ACT therapist, not just a workshop attendee or book reader, ACT is great, because the "Just do it" message of ACT gets toned down with human kindness.
The hopeful part of ACT - and this is why in partnership with self compssion work - is that it allowed me to live a life in spite of having severe PTSD. Instead of the epic wait most of us with any diagnosis do - searching for the CURE so we can be people again - ACT gives the tools to be a person who has a diagnosis that may or may not get worse or get better. It doesn't fix the diagnosis, it focuses on the person. For someone who has been a DSM4 diagnosis most of her life, that is awesome.
So I bought this book with my new diagnosis fibromyalgia.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dej on July 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was suggested by therapist. Only problem is that it only works for so long before your body gives out. I had been using this for 23 years before I was no longer able to live as though I wasn't sick. You can only lie to others as long as you can physically keep up appearance convincingly. When it is no longer possible to stop yourself from falling, or your kidneys fail, or you can't walk anymore it does no good to pretend because you can't fool anyone anymore. And then you are left with the disease and the different way people look at you. When I could no longer do this, I was sent to the therapist who simply told me I should ignore medical advice not to drive and to continue to attempt to do things that I was physically unable to do and could cause further damage in doing so. The technique does work but it isn't safe for you or others around you to follow this method beyond the limits of your body. I was told this would stop me from being depressed. Acceptance is often harder for those around you than for yourself. Friends and loved ones don't always understand that things will change as your illness and pain become more unmanagable. They will interpret your frustration as depression simply because you cannot participate in the activities as you once did. This not a happy time, but they need to go through the stages of grief as well. I was happier when able to do this. I am still struggling with being happy in my diminished condition. But that will struggle will not end and it is important to understand that .
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Lutzke on June 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is what cutting-edge psychology has to offer for (chronic) pain! ACT practitioners are aware of the life-saving benefits of medical science. If one goes to one's doctor, one always has hope. But, beyond that, what? I've been in and around 'help-land' often enough, to really get into this work. After initial curiosity and disbelief, I even found it gripping. I was quite amazed to realize how my mind struggles in a maze it creates in response to pain. I realized how much energy I waste in a fruitless struggle to get rid of it. The narrative keeps flowing gently, calling for your attention. What is pleasing is that it keeps blending in concepts already treated. Close to real life, it tackles step by step. There is no harm to look at pain. A lot of emphasis, rightly so, is put on 'value-work'. To see what your life is really about. The chapters on mindfulness and 'defusion' are particularly valuable. Defusion is a technique to show you that you are not your what your thoughts say you are. For that matter, what your pain says you are. Don't get me wrong, there's lot's of work to be done. The work on willingness / acceptance is quite something. You apply your own work and it lifts you. Reading this book saves you from searching for authoritive statements to hold on to. It treats you as an authority in your own right. This one is not just another self-help book. The main author, one of the worlds leading pain-experts, has written a very accessible manual. It is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a rigorously researched and science based therapy. Honest and sincere, it targets a really wide audience. Once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. It shows us that there's so much value in what we are, it's no longer necessary to be defined by pain.

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