Pain Psychology Interest Group Proposal

Ravi Prasad, PhD

The field of pain management has received increasing levels of attention in recent years. Psychology plays a significant role in the onset, maintenance, and exacerbation of pain conditions, and the prevalence of and demand for psychologists working in this arena has subsequently grown. Many psychologists are actively engaged in pain-related activities through national and international pain associations (e.g., American Pain Society [APS], American Academy of Pain Medicine [AAPM], International Association for the Study of Pain [IASP]).

While it is encouraging and exciting that other groups recognize the importance of psychology in pain practice and research, there is presently no profession-based organization specifically supporting such efforts. Although there are a number of APA divisions in which psychologists engaged in pain research, education, advocacy, and treatment may associate, there is not presently a place uniquely dedicated to the growing area of pain. This lack of a unifying space can stunt the advancement of the field as it inadvertently leads to fragmentation rather than collaboration among pain experts.

It is with great enthusiasm that I announce that the Executive Committee of the Society for Health Psychology (SfHP) has authorized the formation of a Pain Psychology Interest Group to shape the role of psychology in the science and practice of pain.

The primary goals for the Interest Group would be as follows:

  • Define the core competencies required of psychologists who identify as having an expertise in pain
  • Support research on pain prevention, assessment, and treatment
  • Promote use of evidence-based treatment in clinical practice
  • Educate psychologists, non-psychologist professionals, and the public on the role of psychology in pain
  • Liaison with national and international pain organizations (e.g., APS, AAPM, IASP) to enhance collaboration across other disciplines associated with pain research and treatment
  • Engage in advocacy work to support ongoing development and accessibility of pain-related research and treatment

To finalize the formation of the Pain Psychology Interest Group, a minimum of 20 current (2016) SfHP members need to express intent to join. If you are interested in being a part of this new and exciting group, please send your name, degrees, affiliations, and email address to Ravi Prasad at rprasad@stanford.edu.