"Pain is inevitable...Suffering is optional"   Haruki Murakami

Patient Frequently Asked Questions/ Responses

Reason for referral:

COPE treatment is a brief form of intervention that teaches you how to cope with pain. You will meet with your psychologist for an initial assessment and then discuss an appropriate plan.  The care plan may involve 1 visit per week for 4-12 weeks, and you will learn steps to COPE with pain.


What is involved in the assessment?

You and your psychologist will discuss your medical and personal background, the injury / illness that led to the pain, and your current medical pain care.  You will be asked to participate in a series of questionnaires that explore your pain, your stressors and supports, the effect on your mood, your lifestyle and your attitudes towards your pain and your heath care. 

The Health Psychology specialty recognizes that a patient’s pain reflects a combination of factors: the body, the mind and the social environment.

The assessment report will outline the information gathered in the assessment, the treatment goals, the plan, and the intended number of sessions, usually 4 to 12 weekly sessions.

What information will be sent your plan administrator?

You will be asked to sign an ‘informed consent and release’ of course, but you will note that the information recorded in the assessment is not of a nature that should cause you concern.  Information of a personal nature that may arise will be properly protected as is required under the scope of practice of a psychologist.  For example a patient may share very specific details of a traumatic life experience with the psychologist and this may indeed be important in the treatment of your pain because previous trauma can impact pain coping skills. However, the report will not report specific details, only that there are treatment goals to develop coping strategies that will assist in the life stressors that impact pain.  However, be advised, that a psychologist will advise you that protection of privacy of information does not include threat of harm to self or others.  By law and/or practice ethics a psychologist will be compelled to take actions when a threat of harm to self or others exists.

Four to twelve weeks seems awfully short. How can I cure my pain in so few meetings?

The goal of COPE is to teach you to COPE with the pain, and intervene in the cycle of stress-pain-stress, not to cure it. You will not be expected to be pain-free during this time. But, you will decrease your pain response and increase your activity level.  By working on some of your stressors in the 4-12 weeks you have with your pain clinical specialist, you will learn to cope with other problems in your life as well.

Four to twelve weeks seems awfully long to learn how to solve problems. Do I have to go to every one of these meetings?

Learning how to cope with pain is not easy. You will want to practice the skills you are being taught. It takes a commitment to the meetings to cover all the material

Do I have to tell my psychologist everything about my personal life?

Most people have a hard time talking about their personal stressors to people they don't know. While it is important to talk about all your major stressors, you don't have to talk about every problem.

Because the goal of COPE is to TEACH you how to cope with pain and personal stressors on your own, you can learn COPE skills by focusing on any stressor you feel comfortable discussing.

Homework? What if I don't do my homework?

We encourage you to practice your new skills outside of the meetings. Try to do your homework! Even if you don't finish your homework, plan on coming anyway. We want to see you!

How might this affect Police, Military or Defense Base Security Clearance?

This is a confidential service and does not report to any security offices.  There are two phrases on the SF-86 Security Form “Mental Health” question that should reassure that you do not have to disclose these health care services.  Firstly, in terms of required disclosure “have you consulted with a health care professional regarding an emotional or mental health condition”, the COPE program does not diagnose a ‘mental health condition’ when seeing a psychologist for this type of concern. Secondly, the SF-86 form exempts patients from having to report any counseling “strictly related to adjustments from service in a military combat environment.”