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Psychological Approaches to Pain Management

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Chronic pain can be addressed by several treatments, including the holistic approach that uses the mind to cure the body. Psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), hypnotherapy and mindfulness can improve the quality of your life by diminishing the pain level. Linked conditions, such as depression and anxiety can also be kept under control by psychological approaches, thus diminishing the stress level, which is known to cause even more pain.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

CBT is used to relieve the pain and improve the quality of life by reducing the stress that comes with pain. Many specialised pain care centres provide CBT, teaching the patients how to cope with pain by planning their time, finding a routine and focus on relaxation. These can help you improve the quality of your life by creating a dramatic shift in your way of thinking.

The goal of CBT is to teach people who suffer from chronic pain how to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones in order to reduce the amount of pain they experience daily. CBT also helps you improve your social skills, which is a great way to ward off pain and keep a positive mindset.


Practising mindfulness is known to improve the quality of life by helping you focus on the positive things and live the moment. This is also one of the best ways to cope with pain. Mindfulness teaches you to focus on the moment, paying attention to everything around you. This helps you recognise the pain, acknowledge it and separate it from your emotions and feelings.

Chronic pain often leads to negative thoughts on life and the future. People who deal with pain every day might become absorbed by it, unable to draw the line between the pain and their life. This is where mindfulness can change the game completely – by practising it you learn that your life is more than pain and that you can dominate the pain, instead of letting it dominate you. Through mindfulness, you learn to cope with the pain by accepting it and learning to focus on the positive things.


People who suffer from chronic pain often take a lot of medication, which can be a problem. Using biofeedback to control your body was shown to reduce the level of pain naturally, without pills. Studies revealed that biofeedback can be used to relieve chronic migraines in both adults and children, rendering the same results as medical treatment.

The principle of biofeedback is simple – you learn to control your body and relax your muscles, in order to relieve the tension. Through biofeedback you can relax your body and calm yourself, to relieve the pain and reduce the frequency of pain episodes.

All these techniques use the power of the mind to control the body’s response to pain by using relaxation to reduce physical and mental stress. As each person is different and each one reacts different to pain, you need to try out different pain management methods to find the best one for you.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg


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