Daniella Deutsch, ASW received a master’s in social work from the University of Southern California. Daniella individualizes her treatment approach to meet the needs of each patient. She encourages her patients to relate to themselves with self-compassion while using evidence-based practices to achieve pain reduction and mind and body wellness. Daniella trains all new clinicians to the Pain Psychology Center in Pain Reprocessing Therapy, demonstrating a holistic and actionable approach to overcoming chronic pain.
Q: Hi Daniella! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. How did you first get interested in working in the chronic pain field?
A: A little bit of luck and imagination. And when I say imagination, I mean imagining what I can do with a social work degree to help the individual and further the general field.
I grew up believing that we could literally will ourselves out of pain or sickness. I recall my mother saying to me, "we don't do sick" from a very young age. As a result, my siblings and I didn't miss school, rarely complained, and were always productive. While that may sound empowering, it came with a great sense of pressure and little room for self-care. And so, the idea that we can overcome physical issues through the mind appealed to me, yet my attitude lacked self-compassion.
So, when I first began hearing about Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT), a new mind-body approach to overcoming chronic pain, I knew that it was something that I wanted to be a part of. PRT is a system of psychological techniques that retrains the brain to interpret and respond to signals from the body properly, subsequently breaking the cycle of chronic pain. Why I found this work satisfying is because you see results fast with a significant reduction in pain symptoms and improved overall mental health. And so, this work truly feels revolutionary, but, at the same time, practical and, most importantly, targets a significant problem with over 50 million people in our country suffering from chronic pain.
Q: That’s super encouraging to hear! As you have spent more time in the field, and specializing in PRT, are there any challenges to helping people in pain that stand out to you? And why are you optimistic about conquering those challenges?
A: People who suffer from chronic pain are typically heavily results-driven, perfectionistic, and Type-A. And so, they often come to me with the sole purpose of getting out of pain. The caveat is that some pain relief techniques patients use can reinforce to their brain that the pain is dangerous and put further pressure on themselves to get better (factors that put them in pain in the first place). This only activates danger signals in the brain and perpetuates the pain. With PRT, I help patients let go and relate to their pain without fear, pressure, and frustration when that is generally against their nature. The key is to help them believe that it is more about the energy behind using PRT tools than the tools themselves. And so, the challenge here is that I am asking my patients to embrace a new approach to their pain and an entirely new way of being. That is a big ask!
I am optimistic because I have helped many patients overcome chronic pain. So, what makes my job so challenging is also what makes it so rewarding. Not only am I helping my patients reduce or eliminate their symptoms, but I am also teaching them how to treat themselves with empathy and compassion.
Q: It’s great to hear that your patients have had such good results. One part of those treatment plans we’d like to hear more about is evidenced-based practices. Could you share a bit about why that’s so important?
A: Besides working with individual patients, I run the Pain Reprocessing Therapy Center and train other clinicians in PRT. When building the curriculum, we were trying to figure out the most effective way to teach PRT so that other clinicians could replicate the treatment and achieve the same success as we do. PRT is an evidence-based practice proven effective in treating chronic pain. Using evidence-based practices is crucial in maintaining the quality of care because it ensures you are using a reliable treatment that works.
Q: What’s one evidence-based practice you like to use with your clients?
A: Pain Reprocessing Therapy!
There are five components to PRT:
- Reappraising sensations as safe (both cognitively and somatically).
- Addressing other emotional threats.
- Helping patients gravitate to positive feelings and sensations.
My favorite component is addressing other emotional threats and uncovering how those threats relate to my patients’ pain symptoms and keep them stuck in the pain cycle.
Q: Last question: When you are not helping people tone down their pain, what do you do for fun?
A: I am a mom of three, so I am always helping someone! I enjoy exercising, hiking…chasing my toddlers…really anything active!