Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Pain Management
Chronic pain is real problem in our society. Studies show that an estimated 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and pain management can be complicated and expensive. One pain management method that’s quite effective is cognitive behavioral therapy.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
It is a type of talk therapy where patients learn to change their way of thinking. They are taught specific skills to recognize and change negative thought patterns. The theory behind it is that people create their own experiences through their thoughts rather than outside influences being the cause of the way we feel, both physically and mentally. For pain management, patients will follow a prescribed course of action, attending up to twenty therapy session and completing ‘homework’ to alter the way they think about and therefore feel pain.
How can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Achieve Pain Relief?
There are a couple ways that CBT has the potential to help achieve pain relief.
First, skills are taught that help patients alter their perception of pain. This will likely be accomplished by teaching your brain to put pain on the back burner, so to speak, and also by teaching coping mechanisms for pain.
Second, once patients begin to use the skills they’re taught, their brain chemistry changes so that the pain-stress-pain cycle can be broken. When you’re in pain, it causes stress and the release of stress chemicals in the brain. Those stress chemicals fuel pain receptors, causing more and worsening pain. By breaking this cycle, people stay relaxed, keeping themselves from feeling further pain, which would make them more stressed and lead to the release of stress/pain chemicals, and so on and so forth.
If you’re considering CBT for pain management, speak with your physician. They likely can recommend several therapists you can choose from. You’ll likely want to consider whether the treatment is covered by your insurance and which therapists are covered, too. From there, consider doing interviews with the available specialists to find a good fit. One of the leading factors that determines the success of any talk therapy is whether or not you like your therapist on a personal level, so be sure to choose someone you get along with.
Be sure you follow through and finish the therapy plan laid out for you. This can help you manage your pain and live a healthier, happier life from there on out.