Adult Outpatient Services

Outpatient Services by Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology

Many people live with disabling medical conditions that affect their day to day lives. While they build their routines and struggle with limitations, they may benefit from psychological services. These services help them learn to live with disability but not be dominated by it. 

Each situation, person and family is different. The Rehabilitation Psychologist aims to learn about YOU. With input about your values and goals, a treatment plan is developed and modified over time:

  • Psychotherapy may include practical information, and assistance in communicating with your physician and other healthcare providers.
  • It may include regular review of your mood and daily functioning, and events within your home and family that affect you. 
  • A review of your history helps reveal your current strengths, and may reveal attitudes that help or hinder your current coping. 
  • A focus on health-related behaviors may reveal ways to enhance your health and survival with fewer medical complications.
  • Family members are a welcomed part of this process, if you desire.

Above all, the Rehabilitation Psychologist provides an accepting environment and aims to help you become more of the person you want to be. 

Services in Rehabilitation Psychology are coordinated with Neuropsychological assessment services on an as-needed basis.  

Pain and Rehabilitation Psychology within The Spine Program: Psychological services for patients with chronic pain 

Persistent pain may often result in chronic stress and emotional distress that can lead to a lot of suffering and many challenges to pursuing a lifestyle of quality and satisfaction.  Psychological intervention can help you cope with and manage better the pain, physical limitations and distress and teach you how to gain a greater sense of control over your physical and psychological health.  

Psychological services in Pain and Rehabilitation Psychology at The Spine Program are available to patients as an individual service or as part of The Multidisciplinary Spine Treatment Program.   

Diagnoses often Treated:

  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Headache
  • TMJ dysfunction
  • Other pain syndromes
  • Chronic medical illness
  • Chronic physical disability

Common Difficulties Experienced & Treated:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety, fear, PTSD/trauma symptoms
  • Stress from work, legal, and financial difficulties
  • Stress in relationships/family
  • Difficulties sleeping & relaxing
  • Difficulty managing pain or coping with physical limitations

Treating Providers:

Michael Geisser, Ph.D., Professor, Department of PM&R, and Director of Research, The Spine Program

Mary Theisen-Goodvich, Ph.D., Clinical Associate, Department of PM&R and The Spine Program

Contact and Referral Information:

Rehabilitation Psychology
325 E. Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Phone: (734) 936-7052
Fax: (734) 936-7048

Multidisciplinary Spine Treatment (MST) Program

What is the MST program?

The Multidisciplinary Spine Treatment (MST) program is a spine rehabilitation program with experts specializing in the treatment of chronic pain. The MST program philosophy rests heavily on patient education by teaching self-management of pain through the use of therapeutic exercise and modification of body mechanics. Household chores may be evaluated and adjusted, posture or body position during physical activity may be altered, as well as the practice of psychological techniques for reducing pain and emotional stress. The goal of the MST program is to help patients reduce or manage pain and/or increase activity level and quality of life.

Who can benefit from the MST program?

Patients suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain and spine dysfunction are best suited for the MST program.  Each patient will receive an individualized assessment of their chronic pain problem. A comprehensive treatment plan will be tailor made to specifically deal with those individual physical and functional problems. Chronic pain can be a long-term problem and the MST program is designed to teach various pain management strategies that needs to be incorporated into daily function.

How long is the MST program?

Appointments are two or three days per week, for about eight weeks. The amount of time for which you will be here on those days will vary from one to two hours per day. In addition to the MST program, patients are required to do assigned exercises during the program. This therapy is designed to help you start a lifelong home exercise program. What will I be doing?  Appointments are based on the medical, psychological, and social needs of the patient. Patients are generally treated two times a week in physical therapy and occupational therapy, one time a week in psychology, and one time a week with the exercise and health educator as needed.

I've done physical therapy before.  How is the MST program different?

There are a number of factors (physical, emotional, and environmental) that impacts pain, especially when patients have experienced pain for a long time.  Many patients with back pain are not able to work or do the things that they enjoy. The pain may affect sleep, mood, and relationships with others.  Often, pain doesn't go away by using the methods typically used to treat an injury (medication, rest or inactivity, surgery) or with single treatments, such as physical therapy alone. The MST program utilizes a multidisciplinary team of experts to help patients achieve personal goals. The MST program places a strong emphasis on therapeutic exercise as way to reduce pain and improve functional activities. The exercise program is specifically designed to correct or manage musculoskeletal problems that frequently contribute to pain and the loss of physical abilities. Patients are discharged when goals from the therapists and referring physician are met and when all members of the team agree that it is appropriate. A physician will follow up after discharge from the program to address concerns and recommend long term treatment plan (if necessary).

How is progress monitored?

The treatment team communicates regularly with the physician and meets on a weekly basis, reporting an update of patient progress or difficulties until the patient is discharged.

How can I start the program?

Patients referred to the MST program must first be scheduled with a Spine Physician.  Prior to admission, patients are first evaluated by the psychologist and then by the remainder of the treatment team.

Who will I see?

Spine Physician or Physician Assistant: specializing in spine management and overseeing patient treatment from evaluation to discharge

Psychologist: cognitive and behavioral treatment methods, biofeedback and relaxation techniques, and stress management

Physical Therapist: stretch and strengthen muscles and to get your joints moving properly with physical reconditioning

Occupational Therapist: helping patients learn correct ways to move during daily tasks

Exercise & Health Educator: increase strength, cardiovascular condition, and flexibility