Chronic Pain Self-Management Program (CPSMP)

Workshops are highly participatory. Mutual support and success build participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active and fulfilling lives.  Each participant is guided to tailor the workshop content to their own needs.


  • Small group workshop offered either face-to-face or virtually
    • 2 1/2 hours per session
    • 1 session per week for 6 weeks
  • Mailed Tool Kit of materials with or without 6 weekly scripted 45-60-minute small group (3-5 people) phone calls


People with chronic pain conditions, such as back pain, arthritis, headaches

  • 12-16 participants per face-to-face workshop
  • 8-12 participants per virtual workshop
  • 3-5 participants per Tool Kit with scripted phone calls workshop

Workshop Leaders

  • 2 trained Leaders, one or both of whom are non-health professionals with chronic pain themselves for both in-person and virtual workshops
  • 1 trained Leader for Tool Kit with small group phone calls workshops
  • Must be trained by SMRC-certified Master Trainers

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Program replace existing programs and treatments?

The program does not conflict with existing programs or treatment. Treatment is not altered. For all medical questions, participants are referred to their physicians or other health professionals.

How were the programs developed?

The programs were developed based on focus groups with potential participants, reviewing professional organizational standards and national standards for such areas as exercise, and nutrition. Consultation with pain experts including physicians and psychologists.   We combined these inputs with processes to increase self-efficacy and to allow participants to self-tailor the workshops to their own needs.  In addition, many methods from cognitive behavioral therapy are included.  Program and book updated in 2021.

How can my facility offer the Program?

All agencies must have at a minimum:

Man walking with walking poles

Workshop Topics

Techniques to deal with symptoms of chronic pain conditions, such as fatigue, sleeplessness, stress, and emotional problems such as depression, anger, fear, and frustration, with emphasis on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques for managing pain.

Pain physicians, registered dietitians, occupational and physical therapists, and other health professionals have reviewed all workshop materials.  Workshop was last updated in 2021.

Topics include:

  • Appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength and endurance
  • Balancing activity with rest
  • Tools for overcoming worst-case thinking
  • How our minds affect pain and how we can use our minds to lessen pain
  • Negative emotions
  • Healthy eating
  • Appropriate use of medication
  • Working more effectively with health care providers
  • Communicating with friends and family
  • Communicating with the health care system
  • Communicating with oneself
  • Action-planning, problem-solving, decision-making

Participant Materials

Language Options

Virtual and face-to-face programs available in Spanish (Programa de manejo personal del dolor crónico) and French Canadian

For articles about the Chronic Pain Self-Management program see the bibliography

The CPSMP program is approved for Title IIID funding under the Older American’s Act and for Funding from the CDC Arthritis Branch.

Contact us for more information

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