The Science Behind Coping with Pain: The Chronic Pain Management Program
The Chronic Pain Management Program is based upon decades of research conducted by hundreds of clinically minded investigators around the world who have sought to understand how individuals coping with pain, working by themselves, can effectively take control of the negative events and experiences that often derail their efforts to live normal, productive lives. In the 1970s, when many psychologists and psychiatrists were developing behavior modification techniques to alter self-defeating habits, using the principles of learning (reward and punishment), a handful of pioneers began to explore the possibilities for self-guided change---treatments based on the assumption that people with varied problems could take responsibility for managing the direction of their lives with minimal guidance from professionals. After four decades, self-managed change has become a central feature of modern clinical practice, with therapists and educators seeking to train their clients to assume an active role in handling all manner of difficulties---including chronic pain. Without denying the importance of medical and surgical advances, most pain specialists accept the idea that biology, psychology, and social factors all play a formative role in creating and maintaining not just the aversive feeling of pain, but the thoughts and behaviors that comprise the totality of the pain problem. For a long time, pain specialists relied on face-to-face training programs during which patients would first receive instruction in how to keep track of their problem-enhancing thoughts, feelings, and actions and then how to modify them through self-management techniques such as relaxation and positive imagery, physical exercise, goal-setting and problem-solving, thought stopping, planning, biofeedback, self-reward, positive self-talk, lifestyle modification (e.g., better nutrition and achieving restorative sleep), among other things. Self-help books (rather than face-to-face training) also permit individuals to acquire and practice the skills necessary to overcome the hurtful effects of chronic pain on the individual and his/her family. As we are now firmly into the computer age, the next generation of effective pain self-management will seek to harness the unique range and interactive power of the personal computer to put the principles and techniques developed over the past 40 years to more cost-effective use. The developers of the Chronic Pain Management Program have, with the support of grants from the federal government, created not a new set of training methods, but a new format for delivering proven methods via the Internet to enhance the lives of persons coping with pain. The Chronic Pain Management Program merges the established practical science of self-management with the immediacy and ready accessibility of computer science to provide knowledge and instruction, tailored feedback, precise record keeping, aids to daily planning, and even access to social networking to persons with various forms of chronic pain who can make use of its advanced interactive features at their own pace and in the privacy of their own homes.