How ACT Helps with Chronic Pain

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Physical pain is not commonly thought of as being discussed with a psychologist, though there several ways in which the way we think, focus our attention and respond to pain that can make it feel worse.

Chronic pain is defined as pain that is continually felt by the sufferer for a period longer than 12 weeks though for many, the prolonged feeling of pain and the way it can interfere with day to day life means that it’s understandable to want relief earlier than 12 weeks.

There are a number of therapies that focus on reducing the experience of pain and reducing it’s impact, the most effective being Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), that Newcastle Psychologist & Counselling can use to help those with pain to find meaning and joy in life in spite of their difficulties.

Here are some ways that psychological therapy and counselling for pain can help:

Reducing Attentional Focus on Pain

Though pain is often considered to be a physical problem, we know that the brain processes and makes sense of our sensations. For example, it is the brain’s job to determine whether we are experiencing a painful shoulder, or whether a feather has touched our hand.

Consequently, when we experience pain, our neural pathways can adapt in a way that increases attentional focus on the site of the pain and through association our brain learns that if certain movements have previously triggered a pain sensation, it “should” continue to do so even if the tissue is healed.

Therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for pain or ACT for physical pain in Newcastle can help you get back to your daily activities and hobbies with minimal impact from pain through attentional retraining.

Re-engaging with What Matters

Often when we experience pain, we stop doing things that trigger the pain sensation. This is understandable though can lead to a reduced quality of life.

Research into ankle injuries has shown that even after tissue damage has healed, the experience of physical pain can still exist, and this in itself can lead us to think that we still need more rest (though the idea of rest has also been challenged by many pain experts and psychologists).

Even if there are signs of physical pain that still remain, help with engaging with values and important activities can help improve happiness and in some cases even speed up recovery.

Given the role of values in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy for pain, counselling for physical pain can help improve quality of life and get you back to doing things you did before you experienced pain.

Prevent Further Problems

Chronic pain can be difficult to come to terms with as our brains are wired to try to solve problems, however often focusing on pain or frustration at slow (if any recovery) can make us feel worse.

It can also lead to the release a tsunami of hormones and chemicals in our body that sensitise us further to pain sensations and the more we tend to feel frustrated about our pain the worse it often feels, leading to problems such as depression, stress and anxiety.

Many people with pain also experience insomnia or difficulties with sleep which can also be helped using psychological approaches such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy techniques.

Our qualified team of counsellors, therapists and pain psychologists in Newcastle offer ACT in Newcastle and online to help reduce your difficulties that come with pain or illness, as well as help you deal with any related problems.

To Speak to One of Our Pain Psychologists in Newcastle

Newcastle Psychologist & Counselling offer a number of therapies, including ACT for physical pain and illness, to help you live a meaningful life and overcome the problems caused by pain or other physical illnesses.

If you would like to discuss whether ACT in Newcastle (or online) with one of our Pain or Health Psychologists can help, fill in the box below or call us on 07966645198 today.

Dr Stuart Sadler (Chartered Psychologist)

Best wishes,

Dr Stuart Sadler

Lead Clinical Psychologist

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