What is chronic pain?
Acute pain is generally pain that lasts for less than three months. Acute pain is triggered in your nervous system. It lets you know that your body has been injured and that you need to take care of yourself. Chronic pain is different. Chronic pain is pain that sticks around for more than three months. Chronic pain is triggered in your nervous system. It can be physically and psychologically exhausting. Chronic pain is also is triggered by a decrease in fun activities, less interest in friends or family, decreased self-confidence, decreased work performance, and feeling down, anxious, or irritable.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain (CBT-CP) is an evidence-based psychological treatment. CBT-CP focuses on how pain teaches you to do some negative behaviors more regularly and to do positive behaviors less frequently. You will also learn about how your nervous system can be triggered by thoughts, feelings, and expectations about pain.
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain (ACT-CP) is an evidence-based psychological treatment. ACT-CP focuses on how you can use your actions to achieve your valued goals instead of using behavior to control pain. You will also learn how to use mindfulness to accept painful sensations, feelings, and thoughts. Mindfulness and meditation help you to focus on meaningful opportunities in the present moment rather than getting stuck on chronic pain.
How does it work?
Treatment will not take away your chronic pain. The goal of treatment is to help you get back to doing the things in life that mean something to you. Treatment works by helping you to understand your nervous system and the triggers that flare up your pain. Treatment also works by teaching you to choose behaviors that help you to live the life you love.
Will it help me?
The key to getting the most out of treatment is to practice the skills you learn with me in your life outside of treatment. Most people who used CBT-CP for at least one month were able to do more of the things that they would like to do by reacting to pain in a more helpful way.3-4 Most people who used ACT-CP found it to be as helpful as CBT-CP.5-6 You can attend sessions from your home, work or anywhere and receive the same level of high quality care.7
Can I take my pain medications?
You do not need to stop your pain medications or mental health medications while you are in treatment. If you are taking pain medications and want to reduce or discontinue use, you should seek help from your prescribing provider. I am happy to consult with your health care team to better understand the challenges of your pain with your permission.
What do I need to do to for treatment to work for me?
To get the most out of your treatment, you will need to describe your pain experience and the ways you respond to your pain to help me understand what your experience is like. You will also need to show up each week, practice what you learn with me at home, and let me know what skills help you and what skills do not help you. I am happy to consult with your health care team to better understand the challenges of your pain with your permission.
Do you offer pre-surgical psychological evaluations for spinal cord stimulators and other pain procedures?
Yes. I offer an evidence-based pre-surgical psychological assessment for spinal cord stimulators and other surgical pain procedures. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess your potential needs or challenges. Your surgery team wants to address these needs or challenges in order to enhance the psychosocial and medical outcomes of your pain surgery. My goal is to partner with you and to help you to be as successful as possible with your pain surgery.
Can I use my health insurance?
You may be able to use your health insurance to reimburse a significant portion of the cost. Contact me to learn more!
1. Barry D, Beitel M, Cutter C, et al. An evaluation of the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for opioid use disorder and chronic pain. Drug and Alcohol Dep. 2019; 194:460-467. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.10.015
2. Barry D, Marshall B, Becker W, et al. Duration of opioid prescriptions predicts incident nonmedical use of prescription opioids among US veterans receiving medical care. Drug and Alcohol Dep. 2018; 191:348-354. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.07.008
3. Edhe, D., Dillworth, T., Turner, J. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for individuals with chronic pain: Efficacy, innovations, and directions for future research. Am Psychol. 2014;69:153-166. DOI:10.1037/a0035747
4. Skelly A, Chou R, Dettori J, et al. Noninvasive nonpharmacological treatment for chronic pain: A systematic review. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 209. (Prepared by the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2015-00009-I.) AHRQ Publication No 18-EHC013-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; June 2018. DOI: 10.23970/AHRQEPCCER209
5. Hughes, L., Clark, J., Colclough, J., et al. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for chronic pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin J Pain. 2017;33:552-568. DOI: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000425
6. Veehof, M., Trompetter, E., Bohlmeijer, et al., Acceptance- and mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of chronic pain: a meta-analytic review. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. 2016; 45:5-31. DOI: 10.1080/16506073.2015.1098724
7. Heapy, A., Higgins, D., Cervone, D. et al., A Systematic Review of Technology-assisted Self-Management Interventions for Chronic Pain Looking Across Treatment Modalities. Clin J. Pain. 2015; 31:470–492. DOI: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000185