Chronic Pain Psychology Service information for patients and carers

What is Pain Psychology?

Living with long term pain can be very difficult. We know that people with chronic pain often experience psychological distress. It has been noted that physical pain and emotional wellbeing are closely linked and that a change in one area can affect the other. People with chronic pain are often presented with various difficulties, e.g. sleep problems, difficulties with relationships and social life, memory and concentration difficulties, problems with work, mood and anxiety issues and many more problems.

A psychologist is able to increase your understanding of chronic pain, reduce low mood and anxiety and improve your confidence in managing your pain in order for you improve your quality of life. The psychologist is able to offer a variety of interventions, such as individual sessions or facilitate pain management groups.

The video below provides some additional information.

Understanding Pain - What to do about it in less than five minutes.

Additional resources

1. BHRUT Trust Chronic Pain service – You Tube channel ‘Living better with pain’

Online presentations helping you to adopt a self-management approach towards managing your pain. ‘Living Better With Pain’ BHRUT Pain Service YouTube Channel’.

2. Understanding and managing long-term pain-information for patients. British Pain Society publication. Members of the public can request a free hard copy by contacting the BPS secretariat on 0207 269 7840 or info@britishpainsociety.orgBPS Patient Publications | British Pain Society

Pain Psychology

Is it all in my head then?

Just because you will see a psychologist, it doesn’t mean that the pain is in your head, or that you are ‘mad’. Pain is real and it doesn’t just affect your body, but also your thoughts, feelings, behaviours, your sleep pattern and relationships. Chronic pain impacts on your quality of life.

How it works

Your GP will refer you to the pain service. Your first appointment will be with one of the pain consultants. This usually involves a discussion about how you understand the pain and how you feel about it. Together, you will then discuss and decide how to move forward, this may include a variety of options e.g. medications, injections, exercise programmes. You may also see other members of our team including the Clinical Nurse Specialist, and/or our highly specialised chronic pain physiotherapist and/or a psychologist.

What happens when you see a Pain Psychologist?

If the team believes that psychological treatment is beneficial for you, you will be referred to our psychologist. You will be given a consultation with our psychologist during which you will discuss how your pain is affecting your life and how psychology can help you. You might also complete some questionnaires to help identify your psychological needs and goals. A plan will be agreed with you, which may include a series of appointments, typically carried out over 6-12 sessions (depending on your needs and goals) and spaced apart as needed. In order for you to get the most out of the treatment, we encourage you to attend all of the sessions.

What is a Pain Management Programme?

You may be referred to a pain management programme as part of your holistic treatment. A pain management programme or PMP is a group intervention which uses education and practice sessions to help people with persistent pain to manage their pain and everyday activities better. Everyone that comes to a pain management programme suffers with long-term pain. Many people with chronic pain find it affects many aspects of their lives, like doing the housework, going to work, enjoying hobbies and spending time with family.

The programme aims to help with these physical and psychological consequences of chronic pain and assist individuals to improve on their overall quality of life.

Will I be cured?

The pain won’t go away completely but because you cope with it better, it should trouble you less.