Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cognitive Therapy for Chronic Pain

I have mentioned the blog and website How to Cope with Pain several times in this blog.  From the title, you can guess what the subject is.  Recently, the author of that site had a contest.  It was very simple, but quite clever, too.  He asked people to submit previously unpublished writings on any aspect of pain or living/coping with it.  All submissions would be published on his blog over the next couple of months. (That is the clever part- he has a a variety of things to post that he did not have to write himself.)  The contest was a random drawing of 9 submissions from all received, and those 9 authors would get to choose a prize from a list of books. One prize was not a book, it was a set of 6 squishy, silly faces representing levels of pain.  One of my 2 submissions was chosen in the 4th slot.  I reviewed the prizes, looking them up on Amazon to find out about each book, then sent a list of my top 4 choices.
I got my first choice.  It is a book called Cognitive Therapy for Chronic Pain, A Step-By-Step Guide, by Beverly E. Thorn.  This book is designed for therapists running groups, which is likely why no one ahead of me in the queue chose it.  Individual people with pain might not get as much benefit from this book as I might.  I have looked at the book briefly, and it is somewhat daunting in its wordiness and professionalism.  It is not the kind of book that I can just sit down and read cover to cover over a weekend.  Cognitive Therapy seeks to help the patient cope better by identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking, behavior, and emotional responses. This involves helping patients develop skills for modifying beliefs, identifying distorted thinking, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.  This brings to mind the old joke:  How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?  Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.  Cognitive Therapy takes commitment and effort, but it works. 
This book is set up with 10 modules for teaching Cognitive Therapy to groups of people with chronic pain. The modules appear to be thoroughly thought out, including a list of supplies needed for each one, instructions, handouts, discussion questions, etc.  I am excited about adding this book to my arsenal (I mean, library).  I will have to spend more time with it to decide how I want to use it,  I can use aspects of it in my Chronic Illness/Chronic Pain Support Group.  Another possibility is to start a separate group that is 10 sessions long, specifically on using Cognitive Therapy for Chronic Pain, and use the 10 modules for teaching the group.   (That would be down the line a bit, I want to get this first group running smoothly first.)  I do admit, though, that it would have been alot easier and more fun if I had gotten the 6 squishy pain faces.  I could have just put them out on the table at each group session, and people could pick which one they felt like that day.

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