Mindfulness-Based Pain Therapy (MBPT)
According to Dr. Peter Tamme.
Psychological Pain Therapy for Chronic Pain.


® The German equivalent of MBPT (ABST) is a registered brand at the German Patent Office (ID O-10-02322).


When people who suffer from pain consult the doctor, they would like to be free from pain. If this is a case of chronic pain (which will be defined in the following), this goal can rarely be achieved. And if it is achieved, then partially at most. A realistic goal could be:

Freedom in pain


as a contrast to the unrealistic wish for freedom from pain.


Chronic pain follows a somato-psycho-social pattern. This means that people with chronic pain always have a physical, emotional, and social pain problem. The weighting of these three components is different for each individual and ultimately determines the focus of the treatment. Dichotomous ways of thinking (such as the pain is "either physical or psychological") and the dominance of body-oriented approaches to treatment appear to cement a situation in which significant psychogenous illness components are reduced to secondary residual categories. The social components are even swept completely under the table.


If they are taken into consideration at all, this frequently ends in the undifferentiated use of relaxation techniques. However, these are generally not indicated for every patient with chronic pain and – in many cases – are not even helpful. In the meantime, psychotherapists sometimes sneer and wrinkle their foreheads at the topic of patients with chronic pain. Last but not least, this is because a useful, disorder-specific, and psychological treatment concept has not been available up to now – which meant that psychotherapy had to be dispensed according to the watering-can principle” (not targeted). Under these circumstances, psychotherapy fulfills only the criterion of wellness or help in coping with life. The wastage is correspondingly high and the successes are sparse.


The mindfulness-based pain therapy (MBPT) developed by Dr. Peter Tamme endeavors to close these gaps by applying the practice of mindfulness to the special problems of people with chronic pain disorders.




For the most part, there has been a lack of a concept with regard to the psychogenic components of a chronic pain disorder. In addition, the scientific proof of effectiveness for the traditional forms of psychotherapy (used in an isolated or combined form) has only been fragmentary up to now.

Dr. Peter Tamme
Dr. Peter Tamme

The development of a disorder-specific psychological treatment concept for pain therapy must take into consideration both the concerns of the chronic pain patient and the general environment of the pain therapists. This approach ultimately led to the development of the treatment method described here.


The therapeutic approach of “mindfulness-based” was selected because it has been outstandingly successful in other areas that involve distressing negative feelings (stress, anxiety, depression, and uncontrollable impulses) and can provide proof of effectiveness on the basis of scientific studies.


The field of specialized pain therapy has an enormous need for a group-therapy concept that makes it possible – within a short time and with little effort – to simultaneously give many patients an instrument that enables them to disengage from the entanglements of pain-related, harmful patterns of thoughts and behavior, as well as helping them regain their self-determination (as opposed to being controlled by the pain).


The fact that such a concept has been discovered in MBPT is inevitably related to the idea that affected individuals (must) also take responsibility for their well-being once again. This reduces their dependence on the therapists. People who are affected with this condition will welcome the latter. But they may be less pleased about the aspect of personal responsibility because some patients would like to compare the job of a pain practice with that of a repair shop: They complain about something that is not in working order, push the body into the repair shop (the practice), and then pick it up as soon as possible with a new inspection sticker and without any rattles – but without having to play an active role.



Therapists who work with MBPT like to compare themselves to a mountain guide: The guest decides upon a path that is unfamiliar to him or her and cannot manage without help. The mountain guide points out this path and also carries a portion of the burden, but the guest must actually walk it. If the guest demands to be carried, the mountain guide continues alone and takes care of the next guest. The mountain guide is never in a position of obligation. It is only fair to clearly state this in advance.

Can the MBPT principle be summed up in just a few words? Yes! The basic idea is that pain is not the same thing as suffering. Whether suffering occurs and to what extent primarily depends upon whether there are multipliers for objective pain in the form of negative states of mind. Once a self-treatment concept makes it possible for us to identify these intensifying conditions and undo the entanglement with them, this results in a substantial reduction of the overall suffering. What now remains is the purely objective, physical pain, and this can be easily treated by conventional pain therapy.



Copyright Dr. Peter Tamme and Dr. Iris Tamme

Last update: July 31, 2012