How can psychotherapy help to adjust to pain
How does a person adjust to pain and how can psychotherapy help this process?
Once pain becomes chronic and medical treatment has been maximized, the patient will need to develop an acceptance of their condition and reorient their identity to include the experience of pain. Over-reliance upon medical treatments in lieu of a psychological adaptation process (which would include the development of coping skills and a realistic appraisal of the condition) may prolong or lessen treatment gains. If there are significant psychosocial losses, the patient would need to understand the meaning of the pain experience as it relates to their life situation, and find ways to reframe and restructure their thinking. If the pain condition has exacerbated psychological vulnerability, these aspects would benefit from review and understanding. Most patients with chronic pain experience a wide-range of losses and thus will need to reorganize expectations. They need to understand their emotional and cognitive reaction to the changed circumstances and find a means to create new meaning structures. Psychotherapy can assist with this process by the identification and transformation of painful emotions, negative thinking, difficulties in relationships with family and society, reduction of stress, encouragement of functioning, and supportive advocacy that life will continue for the person in new and rewarding ways. The evidence for the improvement of pain with this process has been well established in the pain psychology literature. There can be a value in overcoming difficult circumstances that can enhance personal growth and evolve consciousness. Positive life change may occur after a pain-related condition if the patient is given the tools to move forward in altered circumstances. They are alienated from the life they once knew.