LIVE from Combined Sections Meeting, this episode of the Healthy Wealthy and Smart Podcast features Professor Peter O’Sullivan discussing elements of the biopsychosocial model for chronic pain management. Peter O’Sullivan is Professor of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy at Curtin University, Perth, Australia. In addition to his teaching and research at Curtin University, he works in clinical practice as a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist (as awarded by the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2005) in Perth, Australia. He is recognized internationally as a leading clinician, researcher and educator in the management of complex musculoskeletal pain disorders.

In this episode, we discuss:

-Why you should validate your patient’s pain experience, understand their beliefs and fears, and disconfirm them through behavioral learning

-The link between a practitioner’s language and self-efficacy

-The informal and non-threatening art of Peter’s initial examination

-Maintaining professional boundaries with chronic pain patients and avoiding burn out

-And so much more!


One of the strongest influences to better treatment outcomes for chronic pain patients is trust in the therapeutic alliance. “You’ve got to build a strong therapeutic relationship,” Peter suggests if you want to see patient’s engage in their program and take more control over their pain.


Treating chronic pain patients can be challenging. With the right evaluation framework and understanding of neuroscience, Peter believes you can make instant impact for the patient. Peter stresses, “The nervous system is so damn plastic. If you can get to the heart of what someone is thinking and feeling. Validate it and take them on a journey—it can break that schema up.”


Peter is critical of therapeutic techniques in physical therapy when in fact a majority of patients would benefit from relaxation strategies and progressive loading. He suggests, “I think we undermine how smart the body is…someone who gets in trouble is someone who is too hyper vigilant and probably obsessed with their technique.”


For more information on Peter:

Peter is the Professor of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy at Curtin University, West Australia and is a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist (as awarded by the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2005). His private clinic is Body Logic Physiotherapy in Perth Peter has an international reputation for clinical research investigating the development, multi-dimensional assessment and targeted management of chronic spinal pain disorders. He has also developed a management approach for chronic low back pain – called ‘cognitive functional therapy’. He has published over 190 papers with his team in international peer review journals, has presented the findings of his research at more than 90 National and International conferences and has run clinical workshops in over 24 countries. Peter’s expertise is linking of clinical research to the clinical setting. (see


Resources discussed on this show:

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

NOI Group

Body in Mind


Adriaan Louw


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Have a great week and stay Healthy Wealthy and Smart!


Xo Karen


P.S. Do you want to be a stand out podcast guest? Make sure to grab the tools from the FREE eBook on the home page! Check out my blog post on the Top 10 Podcast Episodes of 2016!


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©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.
©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.