Episode 29 | Using Groups As Part of Pain Management for Disabled Teens

disability online teens Nov 11, 2021

The Group Work Podcast. Find out what happens in the space where group therapy takes place.

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Lena McCain, who runs an Ehlers-Danlos teen group, joins Katie to discuss how group therapy can be used as a means to pain management - especially for people who suffer from chronic illnesses like EDS. They discuss why EDS groups are so significant for teens, how you can run a successful EDS group, and the challenges that cause speed bumps in EDS support groups.

Lena McCain MA, LPCC is the founder of Interfaith Bridge. Within Interfaith Bridge, she runs a highly successful EDS group for teens in Colorado. Lena holds a Masters in Clinical Mental Health: Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University.


[00:00] Who is Lena McCain, EDS group?  (and a fun story)

[03:47] What is an Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) therapy group?

[06:37] What is it like for teens to discover they have EDS?

[07:26] Who can join this EDS group? 

[09:56] How old do you have to be to join this EDS group?

[10:42] Why the support teens receive in EDS groups is so unique and unreplicable. 

[14:22] How arts and crafts can be central to EDS group therapy. 

[17:09] The heartbreaking challenge of supporting teenagers with EDS (and how to manage it).  

[23:52] Rich tools and resources you need to run a successful and relevant EDS group. 

[27:34] Tips for therapists who want to start an EDS group. 

[31:28] How to connect with Lena McCain.

4 Key Takeaways 

  1. Teens who are diagnosed with EDS do not know what it’s like to not feel the pain they feel. They are often shocked to learn that what it means to be miserable is very different for them than it is for their friends and others around them. That, in itself, can be a rather lonely experience. This is why an EDS group for people who have EDS can be a safe haven and a space of belonging.  
  2. People who struggle with chronic illnesses like EDS are always forced to remove their bodies from the spotlight to fit into mainstream society. In an EDS support group, their body has the space to show up and let out the feeling it has been bottling up.
  3. One of the toughest challenges of running an EDS group as an adult with EDS is that you know that things don’t necessarily get better. In fact, things can get much worse. It is hard to reconcile that knowledge and support the teenagers struggling with EDS at the same time, especially when you are asked about your experiences with EDS.
  4. Learning from lived experiences and extrapolating questions from people’s lived experiences can be the best resource you bring into your EDS group. It is hard to find something as relevant and useful. Learn what needs to be talked about from the people who experience it. 

Tools & Resources

Lena McCain’s EDS Group: Website

Connect with Lena McCain: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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