Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Pain Management


What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a common type of psychotherapy; it is a combination of cognitive therapy, which focuses on moods and thoughts, and behavioral therapy, which focuses on actions and behaviors. It involves learning how to identify and change inaccurate or negative thoughts and behavioral patterns in order to respond to stressful situations in a more effective way.

CBT is an effective treatment for various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is beneficial for anyone learning to better manage stressful situations. CBT has also been linked to reduced pain perception.

How does cognitive behavioral therapy help with pain management?

Not only can cognitive behavioral therapy help relieve chronic pain, but it can also provide contentment with life in general. By changing negative thinking patterns, individuals can alter how they respond to pain. Although CBT can be safely administered alone, it works best in combination with other medical treatments and therapies when treating chronic pain.

CBT teaches coping mechanisms to change the way pain is viewed. By changing emotions, thought patterns, and behaviors, the discomfort of pain interferes less with the quality of life. Stress can negatively affect overall health, especially when the stress is severe or chronic. Stress can actually worsen chronic pain, and pain can cause stress to increase, resulting in a vicious cycle. CBT can help reduce the impact that stress has on norepinephrine and serotonin chemicals in the brain, which fuel pain receptors. By reducing stress, the body’s natural pain relief response becomes stronger.

Finding help

If cognitive behavioral therapy is being considered for pain management, speak with a health care professional. They can recommend therapists to choose from. Oftentimes, CBT is covered by health insurance plans; however, research should be completed to ensure the therapist and therapy is covered. Consider interviewing the therapist or asking friends or family for recommendations. In order for CBT to be successful, each individual needs to feel comfortable with their therapist.

Be sure to finish the therapy plan and complete any homework that is laid out. This can help with managing pain, living a healthier life, and improving mental and physical well-being.

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