Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Karson

Second Advisor

Rohini Gupta

Third Advisor

Mac Kentnor


Primary care, Chronic pain, Treatment relationship, Intersubjectivity, Working alliance


Treatment relationships between primary care providers (PCPs) and chronic pain patients are often rife with difficult interpersonal dynamics and experienced by both parties as being noncollaborative. It is important that PCPs are provided with recommendations to make these treatment relationships more collaborative. Relational psychological frameworks, such as intersubjectivity, can teach PCPs how to improve their relationships with chronic pain patients. This paper focuses on how to strengthen the working alliance between PCPs and chronic pain patients using intersubjective principles. Conceptualizing the working alliance from an intersubjective lens gives PCPs guidance about where to turn if their treatment relationships with chronic pain patients feel stuck and uncollaborative. Listening through the mindset of how to build collaborative treatment relationships rather than cure pain will allow chronic pain patients to feel tended to and their doctors to feel helpful even when their pain persists.

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

Publication Statement

Copyright held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


29 pgs