What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, is an approach to counseling that focuses on the interplay of cognition, emotion and behavior to resolve pain. The approach has proven successful for many people experiencing back pain and is recognized by the majority of insurance companies as a legitimate medical technique.
While cognitive behavioural therapy remains a popular remedy for psychological illnesses, practitioners also recognize its utility for patients suffering from severe back pain. Back pain can be a complicated experience that involves pathophysiology as well as thoughts and feelings, and CBT helps patients manage their pain successfully.
How Does It Help Back Pain?
Cognitive behaviour therapy includes three phases and is usually taught by professional counselors in group settings.
The first component involves education. Patients learn the roles cognition and behavior play in pain management, while recognizing that they are in control of their back pain by altering their thoughts and emotions.
For example, an individual suffering from severe back pain may stop performing enjoyable activities. This may lead to feelings of hopeless and depression and thoughts, so much so that pain is enabled to win. By intervening in this cycle, patients not only manage their pain, but also their daily decisions and lives that could have a direct impact on their physical health.
The second portion of CBT focuses on coping. Coping skills help patients respond to their back pain by changing their thoughts, actions and emotions. It also includes relaxation to lessen muscle tension and distract the mind from back pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy allows patients to replace pain-related cognition with adaptive thoughts of coping and positivity by remaining in the moment and sensing when their affects change.
The final phase of cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizes the application of coping skills. Counselors encourage their patients to practice their coping techniques during daily situations. Trials may begin in controlled role plays with group members, but eventually patients should monitor their use of coping skills in the real world. Problem solving techniques help patients develop "cope-ahead" plans for particularly difficult moments of back pain or other challenges as well as analyze how those plans could be better in the future.
Who Can This Help?
Cognitive behavior therapy can manage acute and chronic pain, although the techniques are particularly effective with sufferers of chronic back pain.
The model can also be applied to all age groups and implemented over eight-weeks or for more than a year. Once individuals learn to recognize their thoughts and behaviors and how to respond with appropriate coping skills, back pain begins to lose its debilitating power.
Cognitive behavior therapy is best taught early in the treatment cycle, as it is not neither invasive nor particularly expensive. In addition, individuals with back pain in conjunction with other medical conditions can undergo CBT to help manage the pain from those illnesses as well.
Cognitive behaviour therapy may not be appropriate for individuals with limited cognitive abilities. This includes older patients suffering from dementia, the mentally-challenged, or patients with severe developmental disabilities.
CBT requires a certain level of insight to explore the interplay of thoughts, feelings and actions. For patients who lack this insight, coping skills may prove ineffective. However, cognitive therapy has the potential to help those with chronic back pain overcome their malady and move forward in life.
To see whether cognitive behavioral therapy can be a viable solution to your back pain, you must first consult with your physician before embarking on any treatment. Only qualified medical professionals have the knowledge and expertise to determine its level of effectiveness with your individual condition.