Psychologists role in persistent pain management

At Pain Matrix the multidisciplinary treatment incorporates psychology services. Pain is a deeply personal journey, and so while psychological research has provided broad principles to support all people responding to ongoing pain, we are very conscious of the need to provide 1:1 time with our treaters.

So your psychological service will start with involvement in a brief six-session course with perhaps five others, to introduce you to the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy framework that helps your ongoing skill development in the context of your psychological wellbeing.

At the same time you will have three 1:1 sessions with our psychologist focussed upon your individual responses to ongoing pain.

The bio-psycho-social pain approach underpins all cutting-edge pain clinic treatments. Once these nine psychology sessions are complete, we’ll undertake a review and determine your pathway forward. Having engaged with the team of Pain Matrix, most Pain Matrix patients find they have the tools they need and might either return to an existing counsellor in the broader community or continue building their skills independently, while a small number continue in a context focussed upon specific additional needs.

Effective pain management involves more than simply treating your symptoms. While we may recommend medication or intervention therapies to give you relief from the pain, we will also adopt other strategies to help you cope with the ongoing impact of your condition. Pain has biological, psychological, emotional and social factors, and the effective treatment of persistent pain involves addressing all these factors.

Psychology plays a very valuable role in that process, because how you respond to your pain will have a profound impact on what you experience in your daily life. Persistent pain, and the subsequent changes or restrictions in life that can result from it, can commonly lead to feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, hopelessness, fear, anxiety and depression. Your state of mind can affect the severity of the pain on any given day, and where pain is due to trauma or injury your attitude and approach can either aid or impede your recovery over the longer term.

Identifying, understanding and managing thoughts, emotions and behaviours that are associated with pain and discomfort can reduce the intensity and sensations of pain. By finding more helpful ways to think and feel you can develop resiliency and become better able to manage your pain and other related stresses.

Learning new ways to sleep better can also address common problems with insomnia. Psychologists can help individuals living with persistent pain to lead a full life by reclaiming personally meaningful life goals.

We tailor our psychological treatment plans to each individual patient using evidence-based practices. Treatment can involve teaching you relaxation techniques, mindfulness breathing and body awareness skills; identifying unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about pain; and helping you to develop new ways to manage stresses related to your pain condition.

The psychologists at Pain Matrix work as part of an integrated clinical team and these issues are addressed within a supportive therapeutic setting.