VA- Pain Psychology (Murfreesboro)

Supervisor(s): Whitney Pierce, Psy.D., RN, BCB

Location: Alvin C. York VAMC, 3400 Lebanon Pike, Murfreesboro, TN 37129

Clinical or Research Rotation: Clinical

Number of Positions Available: 1

Anticipated Number of Face-to-Face Clinical Hours per Week: 3 to 5

Description: On the pain psychology rotation, interns will utilize a biopsychosocial approach to offer brief, behavioral health interventions and assessment services for Veterans with chronic pain. Interns are expected to function as a member of the interdisciplinary Pain Clinic team, answering referrals, participating in interdisciplinary appointments and treatment planning, providing formal and informal consultation, and attending regular staff meetings. There will be an opportunity to work with other professionals and trainees including Anesthesiologists, Nurse Practitioners, and Clinical Pharmacists, as well as Pharmacy Residents. Interns will also consult with other mental health and primary care providers to answer referrals and coordinate care.

The Veterans served by pain psychology vary widely in age and era of military service. Current participant ages range from 25 to 70 years of age, with the bulk being in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. The majority of Veterans served by pain psychology are Caucasian and male, but the number of female, transgender, and Veterans who are Hispanic or African American is growing. Typical primary psychiatric diagnoses include Somatic Symptoms Disorder and Psychological Factors Affecting Other Medical Conditions, and Veterans often present with co-occurring Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and Substance Use Disorders.

Interns will complete clinical training opportunities including pain psychology diagnostic intake interviews and psychological assessment for Veterans considering implantable pain management devices (spinal cord stimulators and intrathecal medication pumps). Additionally, secondary rotation interns will be expected to focus on one aspect of intervention for this rotation, such as individual therapy, group therapy, or biofeedback training. Treatment modalities utilized may include: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain, Motivational Interviewing, Biofeedback Training, and Whole Health Behavioral Coaching.

Competency Goals: Interns will have the opportunity to collaborate with an interdisciplinary treatment team, improve diagnostic interviewing, assessment, and therapy skills, and enhance their understanding of the impact of biopsychosocial factors on chronic pain management.

Prerequisites: Adult, health and interdisciplinary treatment experience preferred.

Contact Information: Please contact Dr. Pierce at or 615-225-3776.