Professional trainings/resources address chronic pain and sleep disturbances

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia training

Sleep is the foundation that enables us to participate in the everyday activities we need and want to do. However, problems with sleep are not often addressed and many people feel the detrimental effects of too little sleep.

Man sleeping with head on pillowSeeing a need to address this subject in the field of occupational therapy, Aaron Eakman, associate professor in the occupational therapy department and Natalie Rolle, occupational therapist in the department’s Center for Community Partnerships, provided the first training on cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia to occupational therapists last summer. Because of its success, Eakman and Rolle will be providing another training this summer on the Colorado State University campus.

“I think it was important that our profession be exposed to this intervention,” said Eakman. “We knew we had an intervention worth sharing.”

Over the past few years, Eakman and colleagues have used CBT-I to safely and effectively treat insomnia in post-9/11 veterans at CSU. This summer’s training focuses on teaching occupational therapists foundational knowledge about sleep disturbances and basic principles of CBT-I. The course addresses techniques to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors contributing to insomnia, helping individuals develop the knowledge and skills they need to sleep better.

This year’s training will be held on June 20, 21 and 22 on CSU’s campus. The two and one-half day training will pair case studies with basic knowledge and tools to help prepare the occupational therapy practitioner to begin the supervised delivery of CBT-I to adults. Further information regarding the upcoming training is available on the CBT-I website page.

Occupational Experience Profile tool

Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition that makes it difficult for people to engage in, and enjoy, everyday activities. Interested in addressing the issue of chronic pain, Karen Atler, newly promoted associate professor in the occupational therapy department, paired up with Linda Crawford, occupational therapist from Brave Chronic Pain Therapy. Together they are providing tools and treatment approaches for occupational therapists, equipping them with creative and effective ways to help people reduce pain, rebuild their lives and renew their joy.

OEP logoAtler and Crawford use a time-use tool, the Occupational Experience Profile, created by Atler to help people in pain identify triggers and understand how their daily experiences may further influence their pain. Crawford shares, “The OEP helps the therapist and client explore not just what they do but how they experience what they do.”

Building on this topic, Atler and Crawford recently presented a workshop in the Denver area addressing person-centered pain care for occupational therapists. The workshop focused on empowering people in pain to find meaning, develop resilience and become the author of living their “life to its fullest”. As one participant shared, “I feel pain-centered care would apply to many individuals in the field; however, you demonstrated how occupational therapists have unique value in eliciting pain narratives and experiences.”

The OEP is available for purchase and can be used for education and practice. Further information regarding this tool is available on the OEP website.

The Department of Occupational Therapy is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.