Acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness for chronic pain: model, process, and progress

Am Psychol. 2014 Feb-Mar;69(2):178-87. doi: 10.1037/a0035623.


Over 30 years ago, treatments based broadly within cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) began a rise in prominence that eventually culminated in their widespread adoption in chronic pain treatment settings. Research into CBT has proliferated and continues today, addressing questions very similar to those addressed at the start of this enterprise. However, just as it is designed to do, the process of conducting research and analyzing evidence reveals gaps in our understanding of and shortcomings within this treatment approach. A need for development seems clear. This article reviews the progress of CBT in the treatment of chronic pain and the challenges now faced by researchers and clinicians interested in meeting this need for development. It then focuses in greater detail on areas of development within CBT, namely acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and mindfulness-based approaches, areas that may hold potential for future progress. Three specific recommendations are offered here to achieve this progress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy / methods*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Treatment Outcome