Who are Psychologists?
Psychologists play a key role in the delivery of psychologically-based pain management (Faculty of Pain Medicine, 2015). They are specially trained to help people deal with the psychological and emotional aspects of chronic health problems such as long-term pain. Psychologists are able to help people manage their pain through applying a number of evidence-based psychological therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Why is there a psychology service within the pain clinic?
Sometimes people are concerned that there is a psychologist within pain clinic and wonder if we think that your pain is ‘all in your head’. This is not the reason and we know that your pain is real.
Pain is a complex bio-psychosocial experience and which means that biological, psychological and social factors can all be involved in the pain experience.
When we are in pain, our thoughts and feelings are affected and in turn these thoughts and feelings can have an effect on the pain. We might be frustrated, sad or worried and our self-confidence can be reduced. Pain might distract us to the extent that we stop planning, avoid social activities and don’t enjoy life anymore.
Pain can bring about big changes in our lives and those of our family members. There are many short and long-term changes to make in relationships, work and in our lifestyles.
How can the psychology service help me?
The aim of the psychology service is to help you cope better with your pain and feel better about yourself. You may have worked out your own ways of coping with many of your difficulties but the psychologist can help you to think about different ways of looking at things. The psychologist can offer you an individual service based on your needs.
Some helpful strategies include:
- Learning about pain mechanisms
- Challenging unhelpful thoughts
- Learning relaxation techniques
- Sleep management
- Flare up management
- Pacing yourself so you do not overdo things
- Goal setting
- Communication strategies with others
How many sessions will I need with the psychologist
You have been placed on a waiting list for an assessment; this does not necessarily mean it will lead to psychological treatment within the pain clinic. The assessment will last between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
You may only need one or two sessions sometimes as a prelude before a group based approach such as the functional restoration programme. Or you may need more sessions over a longer period of time with the average number of sessions being around 6. If your needs are more complex, the psychologist will discuss other suitable services that can be referred to in the community.
What happens at the end of my sessions?
At the end of your treatment approaches, your psychologist will discuss future problems and ways of handling these more effectively.
Where are the psychology clinics?
The psychology sessions take place in a consulting room in the pain clinic.
Core Standards for Pain Management Services in the UK, Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (2015).