Behavioral experiments are an integral part of mainstream cognitive therapy27 and seen as a significant vehicle for producing cognitive and behavioral change. Behavioral experiments are developed to test individual's beliefs about the consequences (emotional, behavioral, and cognitive) of either engaging or not engaging in particular behaviors. Behavioral experiments can be used to help with many of the problems that are experienced by patients with chronic pain. The clearest example of the use of behavioral experimentation has emerged in the therapeutic application of the fear-avoidance model.28,29 [III] This model proposes that a proportion of chronic pain patients are inactive because they fear that movement will produce physical damage to their bodies, i.e. their behavior is negatively reinforced by the avoidance and reduction of anxiety. Treatment comprises analyses of the patient's avoidance behavior and the development of a hierarchy of feared situations. Patients' predictions about what will happen if they engage in the feared behavior are elicited and subsequently tested by helping them to complete the behavior while not escaping from the situation; this leads to disconfirmation of their predictions, fear reduction, and increased behavioral activity.
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