The following blog post has been written by Dr Katrina Hinkley, Director of Connect Psychotherapy Practice, providing therapy for chronic pain in Bath and Bristol.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), you will know that it can have a profound effect on your life, including your work, your sleep and your relationships.
Chronic pain can stop you doing the things you used to do, leading to feelings of anxiety, stress, anger, irritability and depression. Medical treatments such as physiotherapy or medication can help to alleviate your pain but sometimes it is persistent – and that is often difficult to live with.
Psychological therapy for pain
Sometimes people feel dubious about seeking psychological therapy when they’re in pain. They might feel that it’s a physical problem and that no amount of therapy can change that. They might worry that they’re being advised to see a psychotherapist because someone thinks that their pain is “all in their head.”
Neither of these statements is true – psychotherapists believe that pain is a very real problem and a real experience, which deserves understanding and empathy. Also, they recognise that medication has a key role in managing pain but it is not a stand-alone intervention.
Psychological therapy can be effective in helping you learn ways to manage your chronic pain. Pain is the body’s way of naturally telling us to stop doing something because it hurts! However, if your pain is chronic then responding to this cue is going to have a detrimental effect on your daily functioning. You need to find a way to work alongside it rather than be dominated by it.
Psychological therapy aims to help you to find ways to live a more fulfilling life despite the distraction of being in pain. It can’t take your pain away but it can help you to change your relationship with it. It can also teach you techniques to relax and to pace yourself so that you can engage in the things you are still able to do. Pain doesn’t have to be the red traffic light that stops you going forward in life!
More details about psychological therapies for chronic pain can be found on the Connect PP website.
Feature image credit: Julia Bourke