Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Talk Therapy for Arthritis

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Talk Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Talk Therapy are approaches that some people use to treat their arthritis symptoms. The information below will help you understand more about this therapy, if it can help with the sypmtoms of your arthritis, and how to find a provider.

What are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Talk Therapy?

A man in conversationTalk therapy is performed by a licenced social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist who help people to explore distressing topics through conversation. This can involve many different strategies to help manage day to day concerns. Cognitive behavioural therapy is one strategy that can be used in talk therapy to help manage negative feelings about pain, illness, stress, or anxiety. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy, also known as CBT, can be used for many types of distress, emotional discomfort, or pain management. It is a form of re-training the mind to think about experiences of pain, heightened anxiety, or stress in ways that allow you to observe and respond differently, in hopes of lessening your pain over time.

How do Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Talk Therapy work?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involves re-training the mind to respond to pain or negative emotions differently. When we experience negative emotions, such as worrying that a pain flare will never end, anxiety and stress can lead to tense muscles, which can then lead to feeling more pain.

CBT is often guided by a therapist, but you can also use self-directed techniques to learn different ways to react to pain. It can help keep your thoughts in the present moment and reduce pain that can arise when worrying about the future.

Can Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Talk Therapy be  used to treat arthritis symptoms?

A woman conversing with another womanTalking about pain and having someone acknowledge the difficulty you experience can be a helpful step in working towards managing your pain. Consider talk therapy with a therapist trained in chronic illness or pain management. They may be able to help provide additional guidance and strategies specific to you and your experience of pain and disease management. Talk therapy involves speaking to a trained professional about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings so that together you can identify any negative patterns and strategies to change them.

While cognitive behavioural therapy can be a helpful tool for managing pain, negative mood, fatigue, and overall health, it is important to note that not every form of therapy will be a good fit for you and your life.

If you try CBT and it doesn’t feel like a good fit, consider revisiting CBT again at another point in your arthritis journey. Since CBT is often more goal-focused and limited to fewer therapy sessions, talk therapy may be another helpful option to learn more about pain and chronic illness management strategies.

How do I find a provider?

When searching for someone who can provide talk therapy, look for someone who is licensed to practice social work, psychology, or psychiatry and registered with their regulatory body for your province or territory. 


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