Pain Coping Skills Training (PCST) is a non-pharmaceutical approach that teaches patients cognitive and behavioral skills to manage pain and enhance their perception of control over pain. When provided alongside usual care, it enables patients to become more active in their pain management. Woven throughout this approach is reinforcement of the idea that the patient does not have to be a passive victim of pain, and that changes in behavior, thoughts, and mood can exert a meaningful effect, thus increasing their self-efficacy. The importance of incorporating these skills, as part of a total treatment plan including current pharmacological treatment, will be stressed. Together, these skills can improve outcomes for patients by building self-efficacy for pain management.

This training will include four of the most important skills: progressive muscle relaxation, mini-relaxation practice, activity pacing, and pleasant imagery. The training of these skills is derived from the clinical trial treatment manual used by our advanced practice nurses in the published effectiveness trial (

In addition, two important practitioner skills, Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Brief Action Planning (BAP), will be included in the training. MI is a collaborative, person-centered form of communication to elicit and strengthen motivation for change.

Brief Action Planning is grounded in the principles of MI and can be used in any health care population. It is an efficient, evidence-based, highly structured, stepped care, self-management support technique. The BAP framework assists patients to create specific, behavioral action plans toward health goals, while building self-efficacy to enact the goals outlined in the action plan. BAP can easily be incorporated within the context of a 20-minute office visit, and it can be conducted in 3-5 minutes.

See APNP Training Schedule for more details.