Your pain is not in your head. You did not want this experience and you would do anything to reduce the pain. Your pain management physician offers you the option of a spinal cord stimulator or morphine pain pump. So, why do you need to see a psychologist?
Insurance companies usually require a psychological evaluation prior to surgery, just as they do for gastric bypass surgery. These kinds of surgeries are expensive and research has shown that their success or failure rate depends heavily on psychological factors. We want to be sure that you have the best chance of a successful outcome. That means identifying any psychological barriers to successful pain management treatment. Results of the evaluation help determine if psychotherapy or a psychiatric consultation for medication is needed prior to having surgery.
What you can expect: First and foremost, you can expect to be listened to and heard. Your pain is real, it is not imagined, even if psychological factors play a role. No one understands your pain better than you do.
Second, you can expect to be offered hope. The best coping resource in all of life’s circumstances is hope, and our goal is to encourage you to hold on to your positive sources of comfort and strength.
Third, you will be offered the most objective evaluation that we can provide. The evaluation process includes an interview, medical records review, and several objective tests. The information is combined and interpreted to fit your needs and offer the best information possible.
When patients do not pass their psychological evaluation, recommendations are made for further treatment. Some patients only need a brief course of therapy that involves teaching relaxation and pain management coping skills. The basic skills can be taught in 10 sessions or less. Depending on availability, patients are welcome to return for a brief course in pain management, though a list of other providers are provided. Some patients will require more extensive psychotherapy and will be referred to outside providers.
Don’t give up! There are many inspiring stories in life to learn from, and you may just become one of those stories!