Online program helping chronic pain sufferers

Published in the Journal of Pain, researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and UNSW have developed an Emotional Recovery Program for people living with chronic pain, which has reportedly shown to help lessen pain intensity, by teaching skills to regulate and dial down difficult and intense emotions.

With one-in-five Australians experiencing chronic pain, the online program is designed to help people better self-regulate and handle negative emotions as well as mitigating painful flare ups.

Developed by leading chronic pain researcher, Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin, and Emotional Recovery Trainer, Nell Norman-Nott, the Emotional Recovery Program is a blended treatment that includes six online emotion recovery skills training sessions delivered via Zoom and a web app via interactive modules and video tutorials.

Associate Professor Gustin, says chronic pain is more than an awful sensation, it can affect our feelings, emotions beliefs and the way we are.

“Developing an effective emotional recovery program for treating the emotional suffering associated with chronic pain, is key in the management of chronic pain.

“Many chronic pain sufferers live in rural and remote areas and don’t have access to treatment.

“Therefore, we have developed our Emotional Recovery Program so it can be delivered online for all chronic pain sufferers in Australia to access, no matter where they live,” says Associate Professor Gustin.

Ms Norman-Nott says the trial shows there is now evidence that learning skills in emotional regulation helps people dial down difficult and intense emotions and lessen the intensity of pain.

“We commonly hear from people with chronic pain that emotional problems such as intense anger, excessive worry and stress can increase the intensity of pain.

“And the impact of Covid-19 has played a huge part in this, due to the contracted access to treatment due to clinic closures and the risk of infection.

“As an internet-delivered intervention, the Emotional Recovery Program is remotely accessible to anyone with an internet connection and smart device, while also mitigating risks associated with Covid-19 infection,” says Ms Norman-Nott.

To learn more about the online emotional recovery program, please email the Emotional Recovery Team at neurorecoveryresearch@unsw.edu.au

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