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Psychological Treatment for Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, whether a result of an injury or an illness, may disrupt all aspects of your life (occupational, social, recreational, etc.) and causes significant emotional distress. Pain can be experienced both physically and emotionally, and it can affect everything that you do, such as the way you work, play, think and feel. A decreased level of activity can contribute to increased isolation, depression, or anxiety, all of which can worsen your experience of pain.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy, and significantly effective treatment approach for managing chronic pain (arthritis, back pain, migraines, tension headaches, etc.). Medical treatment is often not enough to relieve the physical and emotional suffering related to chronic pain. CBT teaches you skills that help you to cope better and mange your pain. Techniques such as relaxation training (e.g., breathing, visual imagery, progressive muscle relaxation), stress management, time-based activity pacing (learning how to become more active without overdoing it), and cognitive restructuring (learning how to recognize cognitive errors and change unhelpful negative thoughts related to pain into more positive coping thoughts) improve substantially your quality of life, and encourage you to engage in activities that you have been avoiding due to your condition. Practice will help decrease your pain, increase your coping ability, take control over your pain, decrease your reliance on medical interventions, and improve the quality of your life.



Otis, J. D. (2007). Managing Chronic Pain, A Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy Approach Workbook. Oxford University Press.

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