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For Medical Professionals: How a Headache Psychologist Can Help Your Patients

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Submitted by: S. Curtis Takagishi, Ph.D., the primary psychologist for the Headache Center of Excellence at the James A. Haley VA in Tampa and licensed in Florida (PY#6420). Contact me at 813-690-8506 or get more information at TakagishiPsychology.com.


Give your patients a non-pharmacological treatment

I provide cognitive-behavior therapy that helps patients decrease their headaches. When patients want to treat their headaches without medications or have adverse side effects from standard medications, I help patients develop an alternative headache management plan that they can implement effectively.

Uncover the cause of their headaches

Patients can identify their specific headache triggers and become aware of the early warning signs of their headaches with my help. By improving your patients’ understanding of their headaches, they can better address their headache triggers and take action when warning signs occur.


Address their comorbidities, such as depression and anxiety.

Tension headaches are the most common primary headache and often are precursors to migraine and cluster headaches. My specialty is to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety by teaching patients an effective paced breathing technique. I also help patients become aware of how their depression, poor sleep, pain, and various medical conditions (e.g., hypertension, sinusitis, and gastrointestinal issues) affect their headaches.

Emphasize positive lifestyle changes

I teach patients how a healthier lifestyle will decrease their headaches. Identifying mental and physical barriers to positive behaviors and removing these barriers is an emphasis of my treatment. I will help your patient increase their physical activity, reduce their stress levels, improve their sleeping patterns, and spend more time on self-care.


Reinforce and clarify your recommendations

A study by Laws et al. in 2018 claims that patients recall only 49% of physicians’ recommendations without prompting and remember 15% of instructions incorrectly. During my sessions, I clarify how abortive and preventative medications should be taken, prevent the overuse of store-bought pain medications, and set realistic expectations for treatment.


Laws, M.B., Lee, Y., Taubin, T., Rogers, W.H., Wilson, I.B. (2018). Factors associated with patient recall of key information in ambulatory specialty care visits: Results of an innovative methodology. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0191940. Doi:10.1371/journal/pone.0191940.


Refer to me when all other treatments have not worked

When a patient has tried all of the medications, injections, and procedures, I can provide them with a different treatment approach. I help individuals focus on the management of their headaches instead of the elimination of their headaches, which improves their quality of life and increases their daily functioning.


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