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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Pain Management

Treatment Overview

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also called CBT, is a way to help you stay well or cope with a problem by changing how you think and behave.

CBT can help you learn to think in a healthy way. It can help you notice negative thoughts and reframe them so they're more helpful.

If you learn how to reframe negative thoughts, you may be more able to care for yourself and handle life's challenges. You will feel better. And you may be more able to avoid or cope with stress, anxiety, and depression.

CBT also teaches you how to notice and change unhelpful behavior. For example, you might learn ways to respond to stress differently by calming your mind and body. Techniques may include meditation, yoga, muscle relaxation, or guided imagery.

Many people work with a therapist or a counselor for CBT. But you also can practice CBT skills on your own.

What To Expect

Cognitive-behavioral skills can change the way your mind influences your body. When you shift your thinking away from the pain and change your focus to more positive aspects of your life, you change the way your body responds to the anticipated pain and stress.

Why It Is Done

The goals of CBT for pain are to help you to:

  • Better understand your diagnosis and your symptoms.
  • Set goals and plan for how to achieve them.
  • Learn to notice thoughts and beliefs that aren't helpful, and then replace them with more helpful or encouraging thoughts.
  • Learn to identify and change behaviors that can make pain worse.
  • Manage other conditions that can happen along with pain, such as depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.

How Well It Works

CBT is helpful because it teaches you how to change thoughts and behaviors that can make pain worse. It also teaches you how to add activity. Some activities, like walking or swimming, can relieve pain.

Risks

There are no risks associated with cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Nancy Greenwald MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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