We usually think of pain as something physical that the body feels. It is important to know that pain stems from troubles of the body and mind. Our thoughts, emotions, stress levels and choices impact the way we feel and deal with physical pain.
If you feel any of the things below, you may benefit from the support of a pain psychologist.
- “Why can’t I be strong and just get over it? I’m going to hide the pain so that it doesn’t make others feel uncomfortable.”
- “I’m in too much pain to work or do well at work. I can no longer support my family. I have become worthless.”
- “All I ever think about is the pain I feel. I can’t even see past it to think about the things that make me who I am.”
- “Others don’t know what I am going through. It is so lonely without someone to understand this struggle.”
Pain Impacts the WhoLe Person, Not Just the Body
- Thoughts centered around your pain
- Deep concern that your pain will get even worse
- Feeling helpless and trapped by pain
- Having anxiety about when pain will flare up and how bad it will be
- Can’t or don’t want to get out of bed
- Stop spending time with others
- Choose not to do things you used to enjoy
- Stress on relationships
- Quitting work
- Medical bills piling up
How Can a Pain Psychologist Help?
- Partners with you to reduce stressors in your life, where possible
- Guides you to be aware of how you respond to pain and stress by looking at how you feel and the choices you make when you are in pain
- Encourages you to set goals
- Helps you make a behavior plan
- Teaches you coping tools to help manage pain and stress
- Gives you healthy ways to direct your thoughts, choices and behaviors
- Shares tools to help you stay grounded when you’re in a tough situation
- Treats nervous system problems (nervous system disorders are a major cause of chronic pain)
- Partners with you to be active in managing your pain
What Might I Expect During a Visit with a Pain Psychologist
- Go over the pain you feel, where and when it happens, and what may affect it
- Talk about any worries or stresses in your life, along with those linked to your pain
- Fill out a questionnaire to record your thoughts and feelings about your pain
What are the Steps to See a Pain Psychologist?
- Speak with your primary care physician (the doctor that you go to for a yearly health exam, cold or injury).
- If you need to see a pain psychologist, your primary care physician will give you a referral to see one.
- If you don’t have a primary care physician, it is strongly recommended that you find one to care for your overall health. You can still get support for your pain while you find a primary care physician by contacting your health insurance company. Call or visit their website to find an in-network psychologist that specializes in pain management or health psychology. Try to find an office that is easy for you to travel to.
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