Acceptance and change in the context of chronic pain

Lance M. McCracken, James W. Carson, Christopher Eccleston, Francis J. Keefe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations


Research and clinical developments over the past 20 years are beginning to shed new light on thoughts, sensations, emotions, their role in influencing behavior, and the particular ways in which private experiences contribute to human suffering (e.g. Hayes et al., 2001). This has led to different approaches to treating a broad array of behavior problems, approaches that incorporate a partnership of acceptance and change. We have defined acceptance of chronic pain as an active willingness to engage in meaningful activities in life regardless of pain-related sensations, thoughts, and other related feelings that might otherwise hinder that engagement. It is about not engaging in unnecessary struggles with private experiences, struggles that often intensify the aversiveness of those experiences and enhance their life disrupting influences. What is novel about this approach is that it is not simply a new psychological variable but a description of a different set of processes of pain and suffering. This approach is fully situated within the broader empirical tradition of the behavioral and cognitive therapies. The examination of its potential merits is already underway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-7
Number of pages4
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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