X You may need to Reload the page to make it work correctly.
Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

A Review of Behavioral Medicine Treatments of Headaches

by Lucy Rathier, PhD 6 CE Credits

Approximately 90% of the U.S. population experiences occasional headache pain with 23 million headache sufferers experiencing severe migraines. The experience of headache, especially migraine, often results in pain, disability, and psychological distress for the individual.  Among migraine sufferers, over 80% experience some degree of headache-related disability.  Migraine alone accounts for an estimated 157 million days lost from work.  In addition, there are high rates of co-morbid psychiatric disorders among individuals with headaches such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental health professionals can play a key role in the multidisciplinary approach to headache treatment.  Behavioral Medicine techniques such as biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and relaxation have proven efficacious, either alone or in combination with pharmacotherapy, to manage co-morbid psychiatric disorders, address treatment adherence problems, and modify some risk factors for the progression of headaches.  This course provides evidence-based clinical behavioral medicine interventions for this patient population.  The principal types of headaches and their causes are described and biobehavioral variables are discussed.  Clinical assessment is addressed and elements of nonpharmacological behavioral medicine alternative treatment of headache are presented, along with specific ways to coordinate/integrate care with providers of pharmacological treatment.


Continuing education for this online course is offered through the following approvals:


  • HealthForum is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. HealthForum maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • HealthForum (ACE Provider #1156) is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program. HealthForum maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: (6/20/2017 to 6/20/2020). Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 6 Clinical continuing education clock hours.
  • HealthForumOnline, LLC, SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0355
  • HealthForum has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6216.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. HealthForum is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Introduction: Prevalence, Incidence, and Cost of Headaches
  • Principal Types of Headaches
  • Psychosocial and Behavioral Variables that Influence Headache
  • Behavioral Medicine Clinical Assessment of Headache
  • How Does Behavioral Medicine Fit into HeadacheTreatment?
  • The Psychoeducational Component of Behavioral Medicine Treatment
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicines
  • Evidence-Based Biobehavioral Treatments of Migraine
  • Treatment Planning and Matching
  • Promoting Treatment Adherence: Another Possible Role for the Mental Health Provider
  • Coordinating Care among Health Care Providers
  • Internet Resources
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Identify the prevalence, symptoms and causes of 4 types of ‘primary’ and 5 types of ‘secondary’ headaches
  • Apply a biopsychosocial model to identify 3 critical factors — behavioral, affective, & cognitive — that influence headache pain
  • Conduct a psychological assessment specific to patients with headache drawing from at least 10 headache-specific and 6 additional, relevant assessment areas
  • Discuss 2 evidence-based non-pharmacologic interventions designed to manage headache pain including trigger/pattern identification and management, as well as how to apply cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation strategies, and biofeedback into the care of these patients
  • Recognize at least 3 models of medical interventions in this domain (e.g., abortive, preventive, symptomatic) and the drugs commonly used within them, as well as 6 complementary/alternative medicines, in order to assist with medication adherence and reduce medication overuse
  • Explain 4 advantages and 2 approaches to coordinating headache care with other health care providers