When you’re in pain and your whole body aches, the last thing you want to hear is “it’s all in your head.” Chronic pain sufferers know that the pain they’re feeling is both real and debilitating. What they may not know, is the pain they’re experiencing may be alleviated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for pain management derives from the notion that pain is a multifaceted experience that is not only influenced by underlying physical changes from disease or injury, but also by a person’s thought process, perception, and ensuing behaviors. CBT believes that by altering our negative thoughts and behaviors toward chronic pain, we can change our awareness of, and diminish, the physical pain.
CBT can change the way people perceive their pain by altering the emotions and behaviors related to chronic pain. By improving coping strategies, it encourages a problem-solving attitude and banishes feelings of helplessness often associated with chronic pain. A common treatment is to consciously track the thoughts and feelings associated with pain throughout the day. You then discuss these emotions and behaviors with your therapist and develop a plan to take action against the pain.
CBT can also change the physical response of the brain to chronic pain. Pain causes stress, and stress can affect the chemicals in the brain that control pain. CBT utilizes a variety of techniques, including distraction and relaxation to reduce stress and divert attention from the pain. Major emphasis is placed on this pain/stress cycle, as better management of stress can lead to better management of pain, and vice versa.
What can you expect from CBT treatment? Your certified CBT therapist will begin by evaluating your pain, including your past pain management experiences. Most CBT sessions meet about once a week and last 45 minutes to two hours. In most cases, CBT is prescribed in conjunction with other treatments, like physical therapy and massage, and it is often covered by health insurance. For best results, Cognitive Behavior therapists encourage an open mind and active participation.
If you’d like to learn more about how CBT can help treat your chronic pain, talk with the experts at The Washington Center for Pain Management. They can help set up a non-invasive, comprehensive treatment plan specifically for you. Call (425) 774-1538 today.