Chronic Pain

The relationship between personality factors (e.g. proneness to hostility), psychological factors (e.g., stress) and illness (e.g., heart disease) is real, but often under considered by traditional medical treatments. When working with a psychologist, these relationships are assessed and a treatment plan is developed. The goal is to help patients lead healthier lifestyles by better understanding the relationships between physical symptoms, personality, habits, and mood.

Counseling interventions for chronic pain work to improve a person’s understanding of their abilities and limitations, learn new methods of managing pain, and to try out options that may not have been considered before. This form of treatment is not meant to replace medical doctors, but to help an individual patient break the cycle of frustration and exhaustion that comes from long-term pain.

Treatment of chronic pain focuses on education. Topics typically reviewed during therapy include:

» Review of current physical pain management, including medical intervention, exercise program, and stress management.

» Education and introduction to psychological techniques for pain management, including
examination of attitudes and beliefs about chronic pain, breathing work, progressive muscle relaxation, imagery techniques, and others.

» Information is provided to increase coping skills for pain and pain-related changes in life such as sleep hygiene, nutrition tips, and support groups.

Success in treatment is measured by the individual’s ability to keep their pain in perspective with life’s other accomplishments and abilities, improved ability to use coping techniques to control acute pain, to set realistic goals, and to minimize the disruption that chronic pain causes to the quality of life. The skepticism and reluctance typical to most chronic pain patients is a natural by-product of their long-term stress and suffering. Putting these aside and deciding to begin counseling support opens the possibility for positive life changes.


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