Chronic Pain Management & Counseling
Chronic pain is pain that lasts for 3-6 months or longer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain affects more than 50 million Americans. Nearly 20 million are living with high-impact chronic pain, which is pain that affects at least one significant activity in their life like cleaning the home, driving, or going to work.
Several different illnesses can cause chronic pain, such as arthritis, cancer, gallbladder disease, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. When pain becomes something that a person deals with and accepts as part of their day-to-day living, it can begin to take a toll on their overall mental health. Chronic pain can lead to feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, and helplessness.
The role of a chronic pain psychologist
Working with a chronic pain psychologist can help an individual navigate through different thoughts and feelings they may be experiencing because of their chronic pain. A psychologist can also help a patient learn relaxation techniques and shift the way they view their chronic pain to create a more positive and hopeful outlook.
Individuals receive tailored treatment plans. Your psychologist will begin working with you by learning more about you as a person and more about your battle with chronic pain. This conversation can include discussing the emotions your chronic pain makes you feel and answering a questionnaire about your thoughts towards the pain. Understanding how you think about your pain can help your psychologist create the most effective treatment plan for you.
Pain management counseling is beneficial. According to the American Psychological Association, studies have shown that psychotherapy can be as effective as surgery for soothing chronic pain. Learning to understand your thoughts and feelings about your chronic pain can put you back in control of how you process pain sensations.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain
Your chronic pain psychologist may opt to use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a way to help you cope. CBT can help with pain relief in many different ways, including changing the way your brain reacts to pain. Affecting pain control chemicals in the brain like norepinephrine and serotonin can lead to more relief from your chronic pain.
Therapy sessions can be used alongside medication and other forms of pain management, like weight loss, surgery, and massage.
The components of CBT for pain management
CBT helps individuals approach life with more of a “problem-solving” attitude. Many times people with chronic pain will feel helpless, like no matter what choice they make; they will still have to live with the pain that never seems to go away. However, with CBT, patients learn to see their pain differently and put themselves in control of the situation. This helps them feel empowered as well as motivated to make some lifestyle changes if needed.
Many times CBT will also include assignments that your pain management counselor might ask you to do at home on your own time before your next session. An example of a task can be writing down some thoughts in a journal and bringing them with you the next time you visit your psychologist.
The power of coping skills
Learning coping skills with the help of your psychologist won’t only be useful for dealing with your pain. These same skills can be used in the future when other stressful life events happen in your life, leaving you feeling stressed or depressed. Examples of suitable forms of coping skills include light exercise, journaling, taking a hot bath, reading a book, meditating, cooking your favorite meal, and finding a strong support circle.
Pain management counseling for a happier, healthier life
According to Mental Health America, “Research shows that those with chronic pain are four times more likely to have depression or anxiety than those who are pain-free.” There is no shortage of data that suggests chronic pain hurts the overall well-being of an individual. Chronic pain can interrupt a person’s whole life, put their dreams on hold, and even make daily tasks to take care of themselves, like cleaning or showering, challenging to do on their own. This negative cycle can often lead to negative mental health consequences, like depression and anxiety.
Our staff understands the difficulties associated with chronic pain. One of our psychologists can develop a treatment plan to help with long-term pain relief and an increase in your overall health and well-being.
To learn more information about our pain management counseling services in Cumming and Alpharetta, GA or to schedule an appointment, please give us a call at 404-566-7183.