During the last 20 years fundamental research into nociceptive mechanisms and clinical trials of pain therapy has established the psychology of pain as an essential component of both research and treatment. Research into neuroplasticity of the nervous system offers a challenging perspective on the complex processes involved in pain perception and demonstrates that psychological factors are of fundamental importance in mediating pain processing. All pain has a psychological component and psychological factors are important at all stages in pain (whether the problem is acute, recurrent or chronic) and have a major role in the prevention of unnecessary pain-associated dysfunction in a wide range of settings from primary prevention to terminal care.
Although the specific roles of psychologists vary in different countries, the rapid advances in pain psychology offer major new opportunities in research, teaching, clinical practice and social policy.
Psychological assessment has now expanded considerably from the assessment of personality structure and detection of psycho-pathology to much wider psychosocial perspectives, including consideration of influences on symptom presentation and response to treatment.
Psychological intervention has moved from individual psychological therapy to include also group treatment and interdisciplinary pain programs. In the latter, psychologists may find themselves in managerial as well as clinical roles.
The investigation of fundamental psychological mechanisms has expanded from its foundations in psychophysics and animal-based experimentation to the examination of psychobiological investigations into relationships between the peripheral and central nervous systems. Curriculum on Pain for
Currently pain psychologists are employed in a wide range of settings, ranging from fundamental research to health care delivery. In education and teaching, psychologists are increasingly asked to prepare and participate in lectures, courses and teaching curricula on pain; ranging from introductory talks to highly specialized professional training, but psychology training often fails to address the special problems of working with pain patients.
The purpose of this curriculum is to equip psychologists to meet each of these challenges.