The role of clinical psychologists in pain management
When someone has pain it affects them physically, psychologically and socially. Conversely,
someone’s pre-existing physical, psychological and social well-being contributes
to how badly their pain is experienced and how well they respond to treatment. In
the United Kingdom, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence recommends
that treatment for low back painand other types of paininclude psychological interventions.
This multi-disciplinary approach to pain is also advocated in other countries such
as Australia and America.
Clinical psychologists help people with pain to:
• Understand the pain cycle (see below diagram)
Think about what makes the pain better and worse
Understand pacing skills (i.e., doing the right amount of activity to avoid ‘boom
Understand the importance of getting fitter and carrying out physiotherapy exercises
Develop problem solving skills
Understand sleep and sleep problems
Find ways to relax (e.g., visualisation and progressive muscle relaxation exercises)