Pain management is a psychological approach used to treat short term or chronic pain. Pain, although a valuable indicator of physical distress in the body is also associated with depression, fatigue, anxiety and disruption in social and occupational functioning. Pain can also lead to sleep disturbance, significant changes in appetite, energy levels, emotional dysregulation, muscular tension, gastrointestinal problems, abuse of pain killers and sedatives.
Pain is a powerful reminder of the mind-body connection. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost a third (31%) of adults with severe or very severe pain experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress. This figure is around six times the rate for those with no pain (5%).
One in five (20%) Australian adults with severe/very severe pain also suffered from depression or other mood disorders. This is more than double the national average (9%) and four times the rate for people without pain (5%).
There are two categories of pain:
- Acute pain which is a normal response to injury, and which is usually short-term,
- Chronic (long-term) pain continues after the normal period of healing and can last months or years.
Research indicates that not only does pain impact on psychological well-being but psychological well-being influences how we experience and tolerate pain. Our attitudes to pain, sense of control, trauma, expectations of self, resilience, and understanding of the causes of our pain all shape how we cope with pain.
Counselling can be very useful in strengthening an individual’s inner resources as well as developing and supporting the implementation of external strategies to increase a sense of agency over the experience of pain. Counselling can also assist in addressing and coping with the original causes of pain whether that be injury, medical illness, and/or psychological distress.