Chronic pain is defined as both a sensory and emotional experience. For many, the condition may impact thoughts, feelings, mood, life roles, and social situations.
Phillip S. Keck, Ph.D, LCP joined the National Spine and Pain Centers’ Richmond, Va. office in Winter 2019 to help the treatment team better understand the complex nature of chronic pain by developing a comprehensive pain psychology service. The program includes presurgical and psychological pain assessments and evidence-based behavioral pain treatment. These services will be provided in both the traditional office setting in Richmond, VA and serve the greater National Spine and Pain community via telehealth centers throughout Virginia.
“At NSPC, we are committed to integrating a comprehensive and biopsychosocial approach to pain care addressing both sides of the pain experience, physical and emotional,” he said. “This is how the best outcomes in pain management are achieved.”
Dr. Keck has expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain (Pain-CBT), an evidence-based approach designed to target pain and psychological distress while improving physical and life-role functioning by decreasing unhelpful pain beliefs and behaviors, increasing wellness efforts and expanding self-management coping skills for pain.
He is also a proponent of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which targets reactivity to emotions, thoughts, physical sensations and experiences related to pain in an effort to focus on the present moment and emphasize one’s values and goals. “As a result, patients are able to meaningfully clarify what they truly want out of life and commit to behaviors that bring them closer to what they value,” he said.
Earning two bachelor degrees (psychology and marketing/economics) from Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Keck achieved his master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and social psychology and doctorate in counseling psychology from Ball State University in Indiana.
During his graduate training, he completed rotations at Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center Interdisciplinary Chronic Pain Program in Indianapolis, Ind. and Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital Pain Center in Muncie, Ind. In addition, he completed internship at James H. Quillen VA Medical Center in Johnson City, TN and received postdoctoral training in Pain Management at Pain Medicine Associates, P.C in East Tennessee.
Professionally, Dr. Keck is involved locally and nationally in advocating for people with disabilities and chronic pain. He is a sitting commissioner on the American Psychological Association Commission for the Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology (CRSPPP) working to formally integrate psychology and behavioral treatment into pain medicine. He is an active member of the American Psychological Association Society of Counseling Psychology, Division 22 Rehabilitation Psychology, and Division 38 Health Psychology. As a result of his service, he garnered recognition with an APA Presidential Citation by Division 22 Rehabilitation Psychology, was a Marshall Diversity Scholar at Ball State University and APA SCP Leadership Academy Fellow. In addition, he is involved in ongoing lectures and research efforts at VCU Health to improve provider competencies in treating pain.
Drawn to the pain management field while completing training in physical rehabilitation settings, Dr. Keck worked with many patients with physical disabilities and neurological conditions and completed research efforts exploring positive traits of people with chronic pain. Clinically, “the common thread of pain emerged across various chronic conditions and it became clear that effective comprehensive pain treatment was lacking,” he said. “One aspect of this need at the time of my training was a lack of psychologists and behavioral clinicians, researchers and educators focusing specifically on pain.”
The core of Dr. Keck’s practice is a biopsychosocial approach to health concerns. “I focus on integrating the patient into their own treatment because they are the most important member of the team,” he said. “When we address the biological, psychological and social aspects of chronic plain and illness, we allow for the best possible outcome to be realized.”
A one-size-fits-all approach to pain management has been ineffective during the chronic pain and opioid epidemic and Dr. Keck strives to communicate this message to patients, providers and regulatory officials. “For patients in pain, you are not your pain and both your physical and emotional experience matters in achieving optimal outcomes, the science is clear,” he said. “The time has come to increase access to comprehensive patient-centered treatment addressing you as a whole person and I am passionate about playing a role in how folks with chronic pain get back to the business of living.”
Away from the office, Dr. Keck is dedicated to his family and being outside as much as possible. “They say ‘The Good Life’ is realized by doing things that provide the highest level of meaning, engagement and pleasure,” he said. “For me, that’s my family and enjoying the outdoors through trail running and mountain biking.”
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