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Pain Management Health Center

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Talk Therapy Plus Self-Help May Fight Pain

Study Shows Talk Therapy and Self-Help Workbook Help Patients With Unexplained Symptoms

Unexplained Symptoms continued...

"It is important to remember that patients have come to see a physician with concern about a physical symptom [and] they want to know if the symptom is due to a serious disease," Sharpe says. "Many patients interpret being told it is psychological as being dismissive."

Lesley Arnold, MD, a psychiatrist at the University of Cincinnati, says that CBT has a role in many painful diseases and conditions such as the pain disorder fibromyalgia. The "innovative and interesting approach" detailed in the new study new adds some supervision, which is very important, she says.

Engaging nurses in CBT can help maximize already limited resources and allow more people to benefit from this type of therapy, she says. "Nurses help doctors integrate CBT into their practice and provide patients with a great tool."

Paul J. Mattis, PhD, the director of neuropsychology at North Shore University Hospital and an assistant investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y., says that U.S. doctors see people with these unexplained symptoms "all of the time."

Some symptoms have no physical cause, while others have a physical cause but may still be exacerbated by stress. In either case, CBT is useful, he says.

"It would be wonderful if every medical clinic could have a therapist in it, but the new approach can be extremely useful as a first step and could be used within the medical practice for when there is a stress-related symptom," Mattis says.

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