Three things I learned about in 2008

  1. I learned more about ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and its value in pain management, at least for some people.  There are some things about this approach that really appeal to me, especially the mindfulness part (noticing myself becoming aware without judging or critiquing).  The action part may not always be so helpful for people who possibly need to become aware of how to lighten up a little, but perhaps that’s just because I need to learn more about that part.  Great sites for this are: Live Mindfully, ACT Mindfully, and the grand Association for Contextual Behavioral Science
  2. I reviewed some of my basic scientific methodology (but not the statistics part – yet!).  It’s good to revisit why a certain approach to ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ has been adopted in modern health care, and while I’m not entirely sure of my philosophical base, I have spent some time looking at Scientific Realism.  I’m quoting now from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, so excuse the jargon, ‘ Scientific realists hold that the characteristic product of successful scientific research is knowledge of largely theory-independent phenomena and that such knowledge is possible (indeed actual) even in those cases in which the relevant phenomena are not, in any non-question-begging sense, observable.’ What this means in practical terms is that you can probably trust that most robust (ie replicated) findings in science are going to look pretty much like they really are, or at least are going to be analogous to what is actually in the world.  I’m sorry about this, but I’m a geek and happy with it! I love this stuff!
  3. I visited theory and evidence on goals and goal-setting. And this is going to be a bit of a focus for me for the next few months because I think it’s time for me to find out whether certain styles of setting goals make a difference for people.  Like most health professionals, setting goals has become a standard tool of trade – but as for the science behind it in pain management? Not a lot has been looked at recently at least.  There is a lot written about goals – but it all seems to assume that setting them is a good thing.  A bit like ‘pacing’ which has always been assumed to be ‘good’ – but is it?  Or the occupational therapy belief that ‘activity is good’ – or is it?  Here’s an example of a reference on goal-setting, and here is one current study being carried out on goal-setting, in New Zealand, but in relation to brain injury rehabilitation.

Tomorrow – last post before Christmas!! Looking forward to 2009, what will be on the agenda?  Let me know what you think.


  1. life is all about learning and becoming wise. It’s good to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going towards.

    3 things I’ve learnt –

    1) loving compassion
    2) give, give, give
    3) expect less from others

  2. Always a busy year – I don’t seem to do things by halves…
    And yes, life is about learning. The day I stop learning is the day I hope I have died.
    And compassion – yes, I want to develop more.

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