Psychologically informed approaches to the assessment and management of pain

A two-day course run by the Physiotherapy Pain Association in collaboration with Pain Training and Education

This two day course starts by exploring the limitations of a purely biomedical approach to pain, and explains the role of the more complex biopsychosocial model. The course goes on to develop biopsychosocial assessment skills, alongside an understanding of the theory underpinning psychosocial assessments. It explores the evidence relating to risk factors for a poor outcome in musculoskeletal pain.  The use of questionnaires and interview skills is covered by on the first day, and a link is then made throughout the course between assessment findings and potential treatment options.

The course introduces the theory underpinning the Cognitive Behavioural Approach, and links theory with practice through practical workshops. Goal setting skills are developed in a workshop setting, together with an understanding of the context of goals within a Cognitive Behavioural Approach. Key issues in the establishment of a rehabilitation plan which uses a Cognitive Behavioural Approach are addressed. The limits of physiotherapy practice in the management of pain-related distress are considered in depth.

The course is suitable for clinicians who treat patients who have pain, especially sub-acute pain, persistent (chronic) pain and episodic pain. The course was originally designed for physiotherapists, but has also been appreciated by occupational therapists, psychologists, osteopaths and chiropractors.

We have delivered this course for physiotherapy departments who are interested in CPD for the whole team, or who might be willing to host the course for the Physiotherapy Pain Association and receive a free place on the course in return. Please email with any enquiries.

Feedback from previous course participants:

“Very informative. Good practical applications and a good mix of learning methods”

“This was an excellent course – the practical aspects were particularly helpful. It was also very useful to discuss limitations as physiotherapists”

“Excellent use of workshops to supplement/consolidate theory”

“The goal setting aspect was really interesting and relevant to other areas of physiotherapy”

Course Aims & Objectives


To introduce and apply the Biopsychosocial model to the assessment and management of pain including the use of Cognitive-Behavioural principles as a therapeutic approach.


At the end of the course the delegate should have a preliminary understanding of:

  • the application of the Biopsychosocial Model to pain.
  • the Cognitive-Behavioural Model as it relates to pain and the development of associated problems.
  • the use of the Cognitive-Behavioural approach to physical therapy and how it applies to outcome.
  • the risk factors for poor outcome in musculoskeletal pain and some of the evidence around this.
  • the importance of communication skills in the therapeutic interaction and how they affect the patient’s overall progress.
  • the assessment of the patient suffering pain and what should be included.
  • the development of the treatment programme and how this is undertaken.
  • the “challenging” patient and how to manage this situation.
  • the limitation of physical therapy skills in the management of psychologically distressed patients.

Sample timetable

Day One
09.00 Registration
09.30 Introduction
10.00 The need for the biopsychosocial model
10.30 Yellow flags
11.10 Break
11.30 Theory behind psychological approaches to pain management
12.45 Lunch
13.30 Interviewing skills
14.15 Questionnaires and questions
14.45 Break
15.05 Screening- workshop with case history
15.50 Feedback from workshop
16.30 Close
Day Two
09.15 Review of Day 1
09.30 Goal setting workshop
10.30 Break
10.50 Dealing with distress
11.30 Activity patterns
12.10 Lunch
13.00 Introducing exercise workshop
13.45 Helping the Patient to Make the Changes – workshop
14.15 Feedback from workshop
14.45 Break
 15.00  Obstacles to rehabilitation: “The Goldfish Bowl” exercise
 15.45  Integrating learning into clinical practice
 16.00  Close