Lumley, M. A., et al. (2021). “Emotional awareness and other emotional processes: implications for the assessment and treatment of chronic pain.” Pain Manag 11(3): 325-332.
Emotional awareness (EA) is a key emotional process that is related to the presence and severity of chronic pain (CP). In this report, we describe primary and secondary emotions, discuss the distinction between emotional states and emotional regulation/processing, and summarize theory and research highlighting the significance of EA for CP. We describe ways to assess EA and diagnose centrally-mediated CP, for which emotional processes appear most relevant. We review several psychological interventions designed to enhance EA as well as several broader emotional processing treatments developed to address trauma and psychosocial conflicts underlying many patients’ pain. We conclude by offering our perspective on how future integration of emotional processing into pain care could promote recovery from CP.