It is believed that changing thoughts about pain can change how our bodies respond to pain.
You may not be able to stop physical pain from happening, but with practice you can control how your mind manages the pain. An example is changing a negative thought, such as “I can’t do anything anymore,” to a more positive thought, such as “I dealt with this before and I can do it again.”
A therapist using CBT will help you learn to:
- Identify negative thoughts
- Stop negative thoughts
- Practice using positive thoughts
- Develop healthy thinking
Healthy thinking involves positive thoughts and calming your mind and body by using techniques such as yoga, massage, and imagery. Healthy thinking makes you feel better, and feeling better reduces pain.
CBT can also teach you to become more active. This is important because regular low-impact exercise, such as walking and swimming, can help reduce back pain over the long run.
For CBT to help reduce pain, your treatment goals need to be realistic and your treatment should be done in small steps. For example, your goals may be to see friends more and start exercising. It is realistic to see one or two friends at first and take short walks, maybe just down the block. It is not realistic to reconnect with all of your friends all at once and walk 3 miles at once on your first outing.