Persistent or ‘chronic’ pain is pain which continues over a period of months or years. We know that living with pain can present many challenges to your wellbeing and create considerable distress.

Islington iCope currently run an eight-week self-management course designed to help you manage persistent pain better, so that it does not control your life.

This course is available to Islington iCope service users. For Camden iCope services users, equivalent pain management groups are available through Camden MSK services – self-referral or GP referral to the single point of access team for assessment is required as a first step before being able to access the pain services on offer.

Islington iCope’s self-management course is run by psychology and physiotherapy professionals based in Islington borough NHS services and combines both psychological and physiotherapy-based approaches to coping with chronic pain.

The first half of each session outlines techniques to manage pain from a psychological perspective. The second half outlines a range of physiotherapy techniques.

The topics covered in this group are as follows:

  • Understanding why pain persists
  • Understanding and working with difficult thoughts and feelings about your pain
  • Learning to pace your activity, so you can be active without leading to a flare up in pain.
  • Managing sleep with your pain
  • Planning how you can get back to activities that are meaningful to you and create a more fulfilling routine, with your pain.
  • How to communicate better with your friends, family and healthcare professionals about your pain
  • Managing the stress attached to living with a chronic pain condition
  • Understanding the role of medication and how different medications work with pain

Since the pandemic, this group currently runs online and is not face-to-face. If you want to know more or would like to join a group please request an appointment with us here.

What can I expect from a group session?

Workshops are typically three hours long, whereas group sessions can range in length. All have a short comfort break in the middle. There are usually up to 10-20 attending the session. Our sessions are facilitated by two to three members of staff.

How many people will there be?

You can expect between 10-20 people to be there. Everyone will be asked to respect the group rules and confidentiality.

Will I have to talk?

No, not if you don’t want to. Participation is encouraged to help you get the most out of the session but we keep the discussions based on the topic rather than personal experience. You will never be put on the spot to contribute and if you do not wish to take part in group discussions that is ok and you will not be forced to contribute.

Do I need to attend every group session?

Yes. Our group sessions are designed to follow on from each other and closely replicate what you would cover in one-to-one sessions. Just like a course of antibiotics, the group is most effective when attended regularly. You wouldn’t expect an antibiotic to work if you only took the first and last tablet and therapy is no different. If you miss more than two sessions of a group we will ask you to attend another one where you are able to make a regular commitment.

What if I see someone I know?

This is a common question but it rarely happens. If you are ever uncomfortable in a group you can always ask to attend the next one. However there may be positives in seeing someone you know at a session. It may be that you both hadn’t been open about your difficulties before but could now be a support for each other.

I can no longer make it, what should I do?

Please let us know as soon as you know you are unable to attend. For our workshops this enables us to offer your place to someone else who may be waiting. In our regular groups it means we won’t wait for you to get started and can ensure you receive any missed material.

Is there anything else I should know?

Most people feel anxious about attending a group session and you will not be alone. However everyone there wants you to feel comfortable and learn how to improve your wellbeing. We often find that people stay in touch with other group members and provide an invaluable support to one another.