One problem people have when learning coping skills is remembering what to do and when to do it. In the heat of the moment it can be really difficult to recall exactly what the new strategy is! We also know that pain interferes with recall because of the disruptive effect on attention, and this effect is heightened when people are anxious about their pain. One good measure for whether attention and thinking processes are disrupted is the Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale (McCracken & Dhingra, 2002).
There are a few techniques for helping people to remember what to do – including some of my favourites like a sticker on a doorframe, post-it notes on the computer or dashboard of the car, or reminders on a cellphone or computer. But one way that has been helpful for several reasons is using a cue card. (more…)