Have you ever heard of the phrase mind over matter? The main premise behind the popular saying is that our minds, composed of our thoughts, feelings and emotions, have a big influence on our physical bodies and external environment. A different way of explaining this phenomenon is the “mind-body connection,” or in some cases, “the placebo effect.” This subject is widely studied, especially in the area of chronic pain. All bodies of research point to a really incredible outcome: positive thinking can improve pain symptoms. On the flip side, negative thinking can contribute to worsening pain or at least inhibiting one’s ability to cope with it.
A clinical psychologist, Nicola Turner, recognizes that the medical profession often creates a disconnection between one’s physical pain and mental patterns. She explains, “we’ve been conditioned to separate physical and emotional problems when in fact you can’t have the mind without the body.” This idea brings attention to the integration of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, with physical therapy. CBT is regularly used as a treatment for an array of mental health issues such as anxiety, stress management, and even phobias. Interestingly enough, Warwick University conducted a study in 2010 on patients with severe back pain and concluded that those who combined their standard treatment with CBT showed double the improvement in pain versus those who received the physiotherapy, osteopathy, or acupuncture alone.