Chronic pain is a complex bio-psycho-social phenomenon that is influenced not only by underlying pathophysiology but also by the thoughts, attitudes and behaviors of the individual. Patients with chronic pain face a host of stressors, both physical and psychological. Many feel challenged and defeated by the medical system itself as they become frustrated by the lack of clear cut diagnosis and search for a cure that does not materialize.
They seek consultations with multiple specialists and are bewildered by the various medical opinions given. They are repeatedly disappointed by treatment failures and are sometimes made worse by well-meaning physicians who are trying to help. The chronic pain patient may ultimately feel betrayed by the medical system and abandoned by their physicians. Financial hardship is common and is exacerbated by lost work time and medical expenses. As pain persists, patients may lose hope and motivation and feel increasingly depressed, anxious and isolated. Relationships become strained and life complications mount. Pain can come
to control and dominate all aspects of life as the individual spirals downward into a dysfunctional condition called “chronic pain syndrome.”
MAPS licensed psychologists understand the behavioral aspects of chronic pain and use both group and individual therapy to help patients develop strategies to effectively manage the psychosocial and emotional components of their pain problem. The MAPS Chronic Pain Program is a widely respected, multidisciplinary treatment program with a proven track record of success outlined in published outcome studies. During this four-week program, patients learn relaxation techniques, practice stress management and master a therapeutic exercise regimen designed to build core strength and physical confidence. Our goals are to reduce dependence on narcotic pain medications and to minimize healthcare utilization by promoting effective self management.
The psychologists and therapists at MAPS recognize the many ways in which individuals with pain may suffer. We recognize too that some patients are circumspect about meeting with a mental health provider. Some patients feel that a referral to a mental health specialist implies that their pain is “psychological,” or “all in their head.” From the outset we make efforts to actively listen and to develop constructive communication with our patients that can change attitudes and lives over time.
The Behavioral Health division at MAPS is dedicated to helping patients accept and effectively adjust to the changes brought about by chronic pain. In our Chronic Pain Program as well as in our group and individual psychotherapy sessions, patients are challenged to think about their pain in a fundamentally different light. We promote the belief that patients must accept their pain to some degree in order to master it. Once a patient has come to accept, even to a small degree, that they are not likely to be “cured” of their pain, they become more open to making productive changes in their daily life. At this stage, patients are more ready to learn ways to self manage pain through relaxation response, distraction, biofeedback, exercise, goal setting and stress management. Patients who are unable to participate in our intensive four-week program may choose to attend ”Living Well with Pain”, a modified version of our Chronic Pain Program that is provided after-hours for those who are working full time.
MAPS Behavioral Health staff members work closely with our physical therapists and interventional pain specialists to provide the best possible care for pain patients. We teach that, although pain may never be completely “cured,” it can be effectively managed and we strive to convince our patient to lead a healthy, happy, and meaningful life despite chronic pain. We truly believe that multidisciplinary pain management can work miracles for patients with even the most complex chronic pain disorders.