Whether it’s a bad back, achy knees, or a site of previous physical trauma, chronic pain is a problem endured by scores of people. Many find themselves debilitated or unable to enjoy a previous lifestyle as a result. The standard treatment of painkillers can lead to serious addictions and significant expense that trap the sufferer between pain and being chained to a drug.
But as Robert Kerns of Yale University recently revealed, chronic pain sufferers can take advantage of a different kind of treatment with none of the side effects of painkillers and with benefits that can last a lifetime. Psychotherapy can be an excellent way to help people overcome their personal battles with chronic pain.
Kerns and his research team performed in-depth analyses of 22 modern studies surrounding chronic pain, and found that cognitive behavioral therapy was able to ease painful symptoms as well as alleviate associated problems such as depression. Alternative therapies including biofeedback and hypnosis were also effective, though the long-term benefits of CBT were not as evident in these cases.
The researchers highlighted the ability of psychotherapy to help chronic pain sufferers:
- Learn to cope with their sensations
- Create personal practices for control and calm
- Understand their own abilities to manage the problem
Creating mental exercises and thought patterns that could be replicated in the home, along with meditation, were deemed especially valuable. Some people with unexamined notions about the nature of therapy may feel threatened to approach a psychiatric practice for their condition. However, many more are finding their fears unfounded as they discover how to live well with their pain while remaining far from drug dependency.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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