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  • Christine Carcoux

Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help With Chronic Pain? Insights from a chronic pain psychologist in Edmonton.

Chronic pain can have a tremendous impact on one's life, affecting individuals more than just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and socially as well. Psychological treatment can be an effective way of addressing these concerns and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has proven to be a beneficial treatment.

CBT can be an effective approach in managing chronic pain. It can serve to support individuals in understanding the connection between their thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and how these can influence their experience of pain and their relationship to pain.

In what ways can CBT help?

  1. Changing unhelpful thought patterns: CBT focuses on identifying and challenging negative or unhelpful thoughts related to pain. By examining these thoughts, individuals can learn to recognize these as unhelpful and reframe them in a more functional and realistic manner, reducing the impact of pain on their emotional well-being.

  2. Developing coping strategies: CBT teaches individuals different coping skills to manage pain more effectively. These often include relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices. These strategies can help individuals reduce their levels of stress and tension, which in turn can lessen their perception of pain.

  3. Pacing and exercise: Many times, chronic pain can lead to reduced physical activity due to fear of exacerbating the pain. CBT helps individuals gradually and safely increase their activity levels through pacing and goal setting. This can help improve overall physical functioning and reduce the impact of pain on daily life.

  4. Identifying and modifying unhelpful behaviors: CBT helps individuals recognize and modify behaviors that may contribute to or maintain their pain, such as avoiding certain activities, or placing a lot of focus and attention on their pain. Through behavioral experiments and goal-directed activities, individuals can learn healthier ways to manage their pain, thus improving their overall well-being.

  5. Examining emotional factors/distress: Chronic pain can lead to or can be exacerbated by emotional distress, including depression, anxiety, or anger. CBT helps individuals identify and address these emotional factors, providing them with tools and strategies to manage their emotions more effectively. By targeting the emotional component of pain, CBT can lead to improved psychological well-being and a better overall pain management approach.

Although pain may remain present after treatment, the goal of CBT is to help individuals develop effective coping strategies, develop a healthier relationship with their pain, decrease their experience of pain, and improve their overall quality of life.

Looking for a chronic pain psychologist in Edmonton, Alberta? Contact New Roads Psychology for a free 15 minute consultation! We're here to help!

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