VA- Pain Psychology (Nashville)

Supervisor(s): Eun Ha Kim, Ph.D.

Location: Nashville VAMC, 1310 24th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212

Clinical or Research Rotation: Clinical

Number of Positions Available: 1

Anticipated Number of Face-to-Face Clinical Hours per Week: 5 to 6


Description: Chronic pain is one of the most common conditions experienced among Veterans, and research supports a multidisciplinary approach to care. This rotation focuses on the role of psychology in chronic pain management. Individual and group therapy modalities teach Veterans how to cope with chronic pain conditions and engage in effective self-management methods for symptoms. Treatment options are primarily based on cognitive behavioral principles, excluding the yoga group, which is utilized as an adjunctive treatment to primary evidence-based modalities.

Veterans typically seen in this clinic vary in age (early 20s to 70s) and low socioeconomic status is a common presentation. Veterans have most commonly identified as Caucasian or African American. The most common area of pain has been the low back, although, Veterans with pain in other areas of the body, including headaches/migraines, as well as those who experience pain spread throughout the body have been present. Veterans may have medical diagnoses often stemming from an injury; however, some Veterans present with no medical evidence supporting the source of pain and may meet criteria for conversion disorder.

In this rotation, trainees will obtain experience with screening methods for the appropriateness of psychological treatment, clinical interviews, and individual therapy using cognitive behavioral interventions, mindfulness meditation, relaxation skills, and acceptance techniques. Trainees will have frequent interaction with providers from other disciplines to receive referrals and make appropriate recommendations for treatment.

Competency Goals: Trainees will obtain knowledge about chronic pain and the role of psychological interventions for pain management. Trainees will also learn to interact in an multidisciplinary setting while receiving and providing education across disciplines. In addition, trainees will obtain opportunities to apply cognitive behavioral treatment, acceptance and commitment therapy techniques, mindfulness meditation, and relaxation training in the context of therapy for pain management.

Prerequisites: Experience completing clinical interviews, using assessment measures, and providing therapy with adults preferred. Experience in pain management is not required.