What is clinical psychology and how might it help with my axSpA?


What is a clinical psychologist?

A clinical psychologist is an expert in mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Seeing a psychologist may help some people with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA).

How can clinical psychology help?

Living with a chronic condition like axSpA, can lead to negative emotions, thoughts and behaviours. This can affect the way you cope with living with axSpA.

A clinical psychologist can help you to:

  • Understand how living with axSpA can affect your mood and emotions
  • Identify negative thought patterns
  • Manage your pain and fatigue
  • Adopt healthy lifestyle habits to help you live better with axSpA
  • Cope with negative emotions, like depression, low mood, anxiety, worry or fear
  • Use problem-solving to cope with hard or stressful situations.

People who are confident about their ability to cope with their arthritis are less likely to feel psychological distress. In contrast, if someone feels helpless, they are more likely to feel depressed, anxious and stressed, which can make their pain and fatigue worse.

Clinical psychologists use different treatments. A common treatment is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT aims to change the way you think, behave and feel, to help you cope better with living with axSpA.  Studies have shown CBT may improve:

  • How you manage pain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • How you manage fatigue
  • Quality of life
  • How you manage your condition

Read our CBT resource for more information.

Where can I get more information?

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) website has more information about psychology and how it can help you.

How can I access psychology services? 

People with arthritis may receive Medicare rebates for psychology services. To be eligible you need a chronic disease management plan or a mental health plan from your GP.

More information can be found here on the APS website.

You can also see a psychologist at your own cost. You can find a psychologist here, on the APS website.