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January 2011



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Brian Thompson, Ph.D. Updated: Sep 3rd 2010

Sometimes the most effective way to manage distress is to stop struggling against what’s painful. It doesn’t necessarily make it go away; however, we at least let go of the additional stress we cause ourselves when we struggle against something we can’t get rid of. Chronic pain is a great example of this.

Chronic pain is pain that persists for months and years, and it can be a complicated and frustrating condition. Those who struggle with pain know that medical treatments have limited use in helping to manage it. Although pain had traditionally been treated as a physical problem, we now know that psychological and environmental conditions influence the experience of pain. Pain can be exacerbated by stress, too much activity, too little activity, and a whole host of other factors. Additionally, it is common for people with chronic pain to struggle with anxiety and depression.

Recently, a new psychological treatment was added to the list of pain treatments. Division 12 of the American Psychological Association, the main organization for psychologists, evaluates psychological treatments that are shown to be effective for certain conditions. They require several high quality research studies in order for a treatment to make their list of what they call “empirically supported treatments.” (Click on these links to see the list of treatments and the list of disorders.)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a relatively newer treatment with an expanding research base, was recently added to the list as a treatment for chronic pain. In fact, a new category of pain was created for ACT: “chronic or persistent pain.” This is unique in that the four other accepted pain treatments are listed for specific types of pain (e.g., headache, fibromyalgia), while ACT was recognized as being useful in treating a broad range of pain conditions.

Read in Full:  http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=39475&cn=81

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