As described by Professor Peter O'Sullivan, PhD, Cognitive functional therapy (CFT) is a client-centered approach to pain and function management that targets the beliefs, fears and associated behaviors (both movement and lifestyle) of the individual. It guides the person to be mindful that - persistent pain is not a reflection of damage – but rather a process where the person is trapped in a vicious cycle of disability. This is fueled by a nervous system that is stressed and sensitized due to negative beliefs, fear, lost hope, anxiety and avoidance, linked to maladaptive (provocative) movement and lifestyle behaviors.
CFT uses a clinical reasoning process that considers the contribution of: pathologic anatomical factors (where present), neurophysiological mechanisms, cognitive and social factors, lifestyle and physical factors, such as maladaptive movement behaviors, body schema distortions and muscle conditioning. It acknowledges that for each individual there is a unique contribution of factors across these different domains that act to maintain the cycle of pain and disability.
Furthermore, this holistic therapeutic framework allows the utilization of awareness to guide the afflicted into a place of empowerment and self efficacy for a positive change in the conditions of being.