Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT )is now a well known therapy for many different health problems, including chronic pain and other chronic illnesses. This is because physical health problems can affect people’s moods and their lives in so many different and distressing ways.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that aims to help you manage your problems by changing how you think and act, and showing people how to recognize and change unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving. This allows them to be less affected by unhelpful moods and to enjoy life more, even if they still have pain. Over the last couple of decades cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has become an accepted first line psychosocial treatment which can help patients to deal with chronic pain, including low back pain.
The NHS add it to their talking therapies list which are offered in different ways, including
- using a self-help workbook with the support of a therapist
- as an online course
- over the phone
- in a group
At its simplest, it is a technique for helping people replace habitual negative thinking with positive thinking, by getting them to see the glass as half full not half empty.
CBT encourages you to talk about:
- how you think about yourself, the world and other people
- how what you do affects your thoughts and feelings
By talking about these things, CBT can help you to change how you think (‘cognitive’) and what you do (‘behaviour’), which can help you feel better about life.
It’s now available on the NHS and CBT usually involves weekly or fortnightly sessions with a therapist. The number of sessions required varies greatly depending on your problems and objectives, with treatment usually lasting from six weeks to six months.
One patient said, ‘I was able to move forward and learn to cope and accept my pain. They taught me how to pace myself better and that in turn meant I was able to laugh again a bit more often, instead of just thinking about my pain all the time’.
The best way to try CBT for chronic pain is to talk to your GP first who will have a list of professional CBT therapists. They can then point you in the right direction for getting your treatment. Of course, there are waiting lists for this type of treatment on the NHS but you could always see someone privately.