It’s well known that there is a strong relationship between emotion and pain. Negative emotions such as anger augment pain and by expressing and engaging with our emotions, levels of pain can be reduced.
People suffering Fibromyalgia (FM) and other pain disorders commonly battle negative emotions relating to events in their past. Neuroscientists believe that this can contribute strongly to pain, as well as other physical symptoms. Traditionally, psychological therapies have not sought to address these negative emotions, focusing instead on symptom management. However, it’s now widely accepted that an (often significant) improvement in levels of pain as well as other physical symptoms can be achieved by helping sufferers to engage with the emotions that flow from what are often traumatic past events.
Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy
With that in mind, researchers in America have developed Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy (EAET) which helps FM sufferers to mentally process both negative (but also positive) emotional experiences, in so doing changing vital neural pathways in the brain, leading to reduced levels of pain.
In a randomised controlled trial, the effectiveness of the new form of therapy was tested against both Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and an active control. The researchers report that six months following treatment, 34.8% of patients in their study who received EAET reported that they were “much better” or “very much better”, compared to only 15.4% who received more traditional therapy.
Where can I access this therapy?
Unfortunately, as this treatment is so new, at present we have not been able to identify any treatment providers in the UK who currently offer EAET. Further, realistically it is likely to be some time before training becomes widely available to psychological therapists.
As and when that changes we shall report further.