Vika Gallich, PhD

What led you to become a psychologist?

I’ve always felt a pull between two contrasting forces: structure and intuition, rigidity and fluidity, business and psychology. My career journey began as a project accountant. With an AA degree in accounting as my foundation, I pursued an undergraduate degree in Integral Studies with a minor in psychology, deepening my interest in this field. While working as a project accountant, I earned my Master’s in Integral Psychology at the California Institute for Human Science (CIHS), where I gained insights into the holistic mind-body connection.

What is your educational background?

Following the completion of my master’s degree, which blended Eastern and Western therapies with modern therapeutic practices, I decided to transition careers. I then pursued my PhD in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization in Health Psychology, at CIHS.

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A word from our President

Kimeron Hardin, PhD, ABPP

In 1990, early in my pain psychology career, working with people living with chronic pain was quite different than it is today.  At that time, there was a burgeoning awareness that the traditional Western approach to chronic pain was not solving the problems and that somehow, the “psychosocial” part of the biopsychosocial model was important, but not yet an established part of treatment protocols. I had exactly zero training in pain or pain psychology in my first pain clinic experience as an intern at Duke University Medical Center, but I was young, had some background in health psychology in general, and had the enthusiasm to try to learn and absorb as much as I could from the professionals around me.

The pivotal work of George Engel (1981) on the biopsychosocial model of clinical treatment had a strong influence on my thinking at the time, expanding my consideration of the multiple layers of illness upward into the larger social, global, and universal realms and downward to the cellular level.

When my first book came out in 1996, The Chronic Pain Control Workbook (2nd edition), Ellen Catalano and I made a rough attempt to incorporate psychological concepts into the management of chronic pain. I was proud of my work bringing new psychosocial approaches and education to people living with pain in ways that could help them begin to assume more control over the quality of their lives without relying solely on physicians to solve the problem. Yet not long after it was published, a pain fellow at the academic center, where I worked, mentioned that he had seen the book in  passing and laughed at the thought that such a book could provide anything useful to people living with severe, chronic pain. I have to admit that I was a bit crestfallen, but the contrast between the medical and the psychological worlds could not have been clearer to me at that moment.

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The American Association of Pain Psychology (AAPP) is a national, multidisciplinary community of pain providers serving youth and adults living with chronic pain. AAPP was established in 2010 to provide a place for pain providers to educate, network, advocate, and share information regarding the practice and study of pain management. AAPP creates community, promotes and elevates pain education, and advocates for a biopsychosocial approach to pain medicine through advanced-level continuing education seminars, free online courses for AAPP Members, community gatherings, resource-sharing, and a public directory of multidisciplinary pain providers. AAPP is a dynamic organization that is constantly evolving to meet our members’ needs.

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