Pain management psychologists have specialized training and experience in helping people manage chronic pain and guiding their return to a more normal life. Pain psychologists usually provide an initial evaluation of an individual's perceptions of and responses to pain. The pain evaluation typically consists of a comprehensive interview and additional
questionnaires designed to assess how an individual thinks about and responds to pain. Assessment of depression, anxiety, personality, and pain medication or other substance use is often part of the psychological pain evaluation. Based on the evaluation findings, a psychotherapeutic pain management program is tailored to the individual's symptoms, personality, social environment, and expressed goals and values.
Evaluations may also be done to assess whether an individual would benefit from spinal surgery or surgery with implantable pain treatment devices, such as opioid infusion pumps or spinal cord stimulators. Such pre-surgical screening evaluations yield information about how the individual is likely to adapt to the device over time and whether psychological and behavioral treatment interventions would be helpful or necessary as an adjunct to medical treatment.