Anna Yam, Ph.D.
I Have Endometriosis, How Can Therapy Help Me?
Updated: Aug 20, 2022
*Photo with permission of @endostrong, endometriosis advocate and not a patient at Bloom Psychology
If you are suffering from abdominal or pelvic pain that stems from endometriosis, a medical provider might have recommended therapy. You might be wondering: why therapy? What can a therapist do for my pain? You might have thought that the medical provider - your doctor, nurse, or PT - thinks your pain is at least partially “in your head.” That can feel pretty frustrating!
Your pain is not "in your head," it's real, it hurts and it's a source of suffering.
Therapy Helps Relieve Suffering
Above all, therapy helps with suffering.
Endometriosis is painful! When something hurts this much and this often it takes an emotional toll. The physical pain can make you feel nervous, stressed out, sad, irritable, and disappointed. What else have you felt because of your pain?
A pain-focused psychologist, or therapist provides a safe place to process these emotions. They also provide evidence-based strategies to help improve your emotion-regulation and resilience. Greater resilience helps reduce the extra suffering you feel because of anxiety, depression, despair, and isolation.
Therapy Helps Engage with Life
In addition to messing with your mood and emotions, endometriosis pain and discomfort often interferes with your ability to do the things you want to do. This could be work, exercise, hobbies, time with friends and family, and sex. Not only are you in pain, you’re also missing out on opportunities to engage in meaningful activities, and opportunities to frankly feel good - play, laugh, be fully present, enjoy sex.
In therapy, you partner with your provider to create a plan for re-engaging in activities that are most meaningful to you, in a way that is safe, manageable and tailored to your life.
Therapy Helps Process Medical Trauma
Getting a diagnosis and receiving medical care can be complex, stressful, and at times traumatic. It can be quite common for women to go for months and years without obtaining a definitive diagnosis. Some women are told repeatedly that there is nothing wrong, which can feel disorienting and invalidating. A pain-informed therapist or pain psychologist can help you process through these experiences and arm you with resources for navigating the medical system assertively and effectively.
Psychologists and therapists who specialize in pain understand pain from a whole-person perspective. The aspects of pain therapy above are among the tools we use, and the effect of the work is most often reduced pain symptoms. Want to learn more? I've created a short online course about healing pelvic pain. Get on the waitlist and you will be informed when the course goes live.