Chronic Pain Program. We collaborate closely with area physicians and their patients in our psychological chronic pain management program. Physicians refer patients to the program because pain by its very nature is an emotional as well as a physical experience. People living with chronic pain are at an elevated risk for developing depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and somatoform disorders. Psychological science shows that pain care is improved when a psychologist is part of the treatment team.
All patients referred to the pain management program first participate in a thorough psychological evaluation. During the psychological evaluation, we gather information about family history, social history, medical history, academic history, occupational history, legal history, alcohol and drug history, as well as a history of the onset, course, and treatment of the painful condition. Through psychological testing, we gather information about a variety of psychological variables that may complicate medical pain treatment modalities. From the evaluation, we determine baseline psychological functioning, and gain an estimation of the degree to which psychological factors are influencing the patient's perception of pain. This is not to say that we believe that the pain is "all in the head," but psychological variables can lead to better or worse pain experiences.
The second part of the pain management program depends upon the needs identified in the psychological evaluation. Treatment may consist of a structured course of cognitive behavior therapy provided in a class format to address the adaptation to chronic pain process specifically, or you may be referred to a mental health treatment group for depression, anxiety, or other problems. People in our programs learn to identify and dispute unhealthy cognitions related to pain, how to replace these with healthier thoughts, how to begin increasing levels of activity, and how to use several behavioral techniques including activity logs and relaxation exercises to better manage pain. . The over-riding goal of each psychological treatment service is to improve the overall quality of life for those participating.
Once a person completes therapy, he or she may chose to participate in the third phase of our program. Aftercare treatment is targeted to address specific and continuing psychological needs of patients.
Our program is not designed to replace medical interventions; however, it is designed to be a powerful adjunct to your physician’s services. We also will not be able to eliminate your pain completely, but we will be able to help you better manage your physical condition by maintaining an optimistic attitude and a healthy outlook on pain.