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Cognitive Therapy for chronic pain.

Cognitive Therapy was first developed by a medical doctor, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst called Aaron Beck, from America. He put it together in the middle of the 1960’s after being certain that he was not getting enough improvement with his patients through analysis.

Cognitive therapy is all about learning how our thoughts create our moods. By using Cognitive therapy we can recognize and reassess these patterns of negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. Basically, it aims to help you manage your problems by changing how you think and act.

Chronic pain can soon make you feel depressed and cognitive therapy can help a depressed person to recognise which life problems are critical, and which are minor. By talking about your problems it can help you to change how you think (cognitive) and what you do (behaviour) which can help you feel better about life. Cognitive Therapy is not going to take the pain away but helps you to deal with the situation which is making you unhappy and depressed.

It is so well recognized now, that it is available on the NHS they explain …

In CBT, problems are broken down into five main areas:

• situations

• thoughts

• emotions

• physical feelings

• actions

CBT is based on the concept of these five areas being interconnected and affecting each other. For example, your thoughts about a certain situation can often affect how you feel both physically and emotionally, as well as how you act in response.

How CBT is different

CBT differs from many other psychotherapies because it’s:

• pragmatic – it helps identify specific problems and tries to solve them

• highly structured – rather than talking freely about your life, you and your therapist discuss specific problems and set goals for you to achieve

• focused on current problems – it’s mainly concerned with how you think and act now rather than attempting to resolve past issues

• collaborative – your therapist won’t tell you what to do; they’ll work with you to find solutions to your current difficulties

Stopping negative thought cycles

There are helpful and unhelpful ways of reacting to a situation, often determined by how you think about them.

For example, if your marriage has ended in divorce, you might think you’ve failed and that you’re not capable of having another meaningful relationship.

This could lead to you feeling hopeless, lonely, depressed and tired, so you stop going out and meeting new people. You become trapped in a negative cycle, sitting at home alone and feeling bad about yourself.

But rather than accepting this way of thinking you could accept that many marriages end, learn from your mistakes and move on, and feel optimistic about the future.

This optimism could result in you becoming more socially active and you may start evening classes and develop a new circle of friends.

This is a simplified example, but it illustrates how certain thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions can trap you in a negative cycle and even create new situations that make you feel worse about yourself.

CBT aims to stop negative cycles such as these by breaking down things that make you feel bad, anxious or scared. By making your problems more manageable, CBT can help you change your negative thought patterns and improve the way you feel.

CBT can help you get to a point where you can achieve this on your own and tackle problems without the help of a therapist.


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