Treating you as a whole person—instead of simply as a patient with chronic pain—includes understanding how life stressors and anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions may also be contributing to your pain and negatively affecting your overall health and well-being.

Social Work and the Role of a Social Worker

Social work focuses on the relationships between people and their home, school, and work environments and how these relationships affect a person’s ability to accomplish important and enjoyable activities and goals.

A social worker is trained to help people improve their abilities and problem-solving skills to manage their specific life situation and medical condition.

A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) can practice psychotherapy in a variety of settings, including clinics and hospitals. An LCSW can provide individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.

An LSCW is a very important member of our interdisciplinary UT Health Austin Comprehensive Pain Management team:

  • Our LCSW first completes a bio-psychosocial-spiritual assessment of you as a whole person.
  • Our LCSW then assists you and your caregivers by (a) sharing this information and perspectives on how other life factors are affecting your chronic pain and (b) helping you to build coping strategies, psychological skills, and ways to improve your daily function and quality of life.
  • Our LCSW undertakes this evaluation and treatment plan, including psychotherapy, through a series of face-to-face sessions and home-based activities.

Types of Therapy and Counseling Provided by LCSW

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain (CBT-CP) is a time-limited form of psychotherapy that can positively assist patients with the mental and behavioral aspects of their chronic pain condition.

  • CBT-CP identifies and improves the relationships between an individual’s pain-related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • CBT-CP focuses on solving current problems and teaching patients the skills needed to change their problematic pain-related thinking and behavior.
  • CBT-CP can help recover daily function, achieve goals, and increase quality of life for patients with any number of chronic pain conditions.

Treatment with CBT-CP can be successfully included in the management of chronic pain, by itself or combined with other forms of pain treatment.

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, along with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility and resilience.

ACT can help patients to better cope with their chronic pain and to overcome the disability caused by their chronic pain.

Motivational interviewing is a goal-oriented, patient-centered counseling style for bringing out behavior change by helping patients to explore and to resolve uncertainty in their lives.

Psychotherapy helps to identify and to call attention to a patient’s own strengths and past accomplishments and to link these qualities to activities of current daily living.