Current psychological approaches in managing chronic pain
Overview of workshop
When working with someone who has a long-term health condition, including chronic pain, it can be overwhelming for a therapist to know where to begin. The interaction between mental and physical pain can confuse the picture and it is not uncommon for clients to be concerned that their physical experiences are not being taken seriously by professionals, but are deemed instead to be ‘imagined’ or ‘all in my head’. Therapists can therefore feel pulled between offering direct coping strategies to try and reduce the physical sensations, or, alternatively, focus on emotional difficulties and past traumas that may be an underlying contributing factor in the client’s presenting distress.
As therapists in a position of trying to help, we can, understandably, find it unbearable ourselves to ‘stay with’ the raw experience of the pain, and so we can get drawn into less helpful processes of trying to ‘fix’. It can therefore be extremely useful to have theoretical models which can offer a meaning for the person’s experience of pain, and provide clinical guidance as to the most helpful intervention. In recent years, a range of psychological approaches have been applied to pain management building on more traditional Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approaches and include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) amongst others, all of which have a varied, but growing evidence-base.
Based on a sound client formulation grounded in core therapeutic principles, it can be possible to integrate a range of helpful concepts and techniques to improve a person’s quality of life when living with chronic pain. In this workshop, Dr Melanie Davis, Clinical Psychologist and CAT Practitioner, will share her experiences in working with chronic pain clients over the last seven years to illustrate how to address the common barriers that are often faced. The workshop will cover core theory underlying the psychology of pain. Based on this, we will look at what to cover in the assessment process, how to start building a meaningful formulation which then directs towards specific interventions that can be helpful in offering both hope for the future as well as symptom relief.
Aims and learning outcomes
The day is designed to help you:
- Recognise the core psychological difficulties that chronic pain brings
- Increase awareness into the psychological theory behind the management of chronic pain
- Reflect on your personal experiences of pain and how to use this to better inform client work
- Develop confidence to explore the experience of pain with clients to establish meaning
- Consider key assessment questions to help establish the focus of psychological work
- Practice a range of treatment strategies from different psychological models
- Build confidence in how to integrate different tools within an overarching formulation.
Who is it for?
Counsellors, psychotherapists, CBT therapists, and other mental health professionals or trainee therapists who have experience of clients presenting with a long-term health condition or chronic pain. Knowledge of the above described models is helpful, but not essential.
Please note, our training room is on the first floor and is accessed by stairs. If you have any special requirements, or if you need to advise us of anything before booking or attending the training, then please contact us.
About the host
Dr Melanie Lee MA (Hons), DClinPsy, CPsychol, AFBPsS is an experienced Clinical Psychologist, being a Chartered Member and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as a Practitioner Psychologist.