The Psychologist’s Role
A psychologist with special training in Pain Medicine is a key member of a multidisciplinary pain clinic. This psychologist leads the Behavioral Pain Medicine program, which is the core of the Chronic Pain Management Program. In fact, definitions of multidisciplinary pain clinics require that a psychologist be an integral part of the Chronic Pain Management team.
Here are examples of what the psychologist does:
- The psychologist provides evidence based, proven treatment – one on one and pain groups which emphasize cognitive and behavioral treatment techniques that are now I recommended part of pain treatment based on recent of national guidelines for treating pain.
- This treatment can help a person who has had pain longer than 3 months feel a lot better – even if there is no treatment available to decrease the sensory (the ouch-factor) component of their pain.
- This treatment can increase the chances that other treatments will work well. For example, we address and reduce psychosocial issues that would be likely to undermine good treatment results with surgery, physical therapy, etc.
- The pain psychologist does a very important patient assessment:
- The assessment helps the IPCA team identify people at risk for developing chronic pain, and therefore this assessment guides us to interventions to prevent chronic pain.
- The assessment helps patients avoid pain treatment that is unlikely to work. The assessment helps the IPCA team identify people with chronic pain who are unlikely, because of psychosocial factors, to respond to treatments like inections and surgery and medications. The assessment helps all providers avoid treatment which could be unsafe for a patient with psychosocial co-morbidity – – such as prescribing opioid to patients likely to misuse the medication or allow it to be diverted. The behavioral pain medicine assessement helps to identify these patients prospectively, and helps us manage these patients more safely.