Home > Health & Wellness > Health Library > Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Pain Management
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also called CBT, is a way to help you stay well or cope with a health problem by changing how you think. And how you think affects how you feel.
If you learn how to stop negative thoughts when they happen, 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 is a therapy that is often used to help people think in a healthy way. It focuses on thought (cognitive) and action (behavioral). CBT can help you notice the discouraging thoughts that make you feel bad. These thoughts are sometimes called irrational or automatic thoughts.
Using CBT, you can learn to stop these thoughts and replace them with helpful thoughts.
This kind of thinking also involves calming your mind and body. You can use one or more techniques. These may include meditation, yoga, muscle relaxation, or guided imagery.
Many people work with a therapist or a counselor to learn CBT. But you also can practice on your own.
For more information, see Stop Negative Thoughts: Choosing a Healthier Way of Thinking.
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.
The goal of cognitive-behavioral
therapy is to change the way you think about the pain so that your body and
mind respond better when you have episodes of pain. Therapy focuses on changing
your thoughts about illness and then helping you adopt positive ways of coping
with illness. For cognitive-behavioral therapy to be most effective, work
together with your counselor toward common goals.
CBT can be helpful for chronic pain
by changing the way you think about pain. It also teaches you how to become
more active. This helps, because pain can also
improve with appropriate physical activity, such as walking or swimming.
There are no risks associated with
Whatever the reasons for
improvement, it is clear that cognitive-behavioral therapy can be helpful for
some people who have persistent pain. It has virtually none of the side effects
that other treatments, such as medicines, can cause.
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
January 9, 2013
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
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