Pain Management Skills Course



The teaching staff for this course vary depending on availability and the University of Sydney requirements.

Course type

This course is an AHTA Elective course.

Elective courses are suitable for practitioners:

  • that are experienced and wish to upskill or revise current best-practice
  • wishing to gain greater knowledge in a specific area of hand therapy
  • wanting continued professional learning (CPD hours)
  • undertaking to complete the Accredited Hand Therapist credential.

Refer Course types.


AHTA courses meet Australian Quality Framework (AQF) Level 8 standards.

The University of Sydney presents this course.


Completed Fundamentals of Hand Therapy Course OR
Completed a Masters or postgraduate degree in Hand Therapy (PT/OT) OR
Be an Accredited Hand Therapist as awarded by the Australian Hand Therapy Association with:
A minimum of 2 years post-graduate experience in a hand therapy setting.

Participants will be asked to complete a pre-course questionnaire to assess knowledge of CBT principles. They will also be asked to complete a formal evaluation of the course on completion of the requirements. Competence in performing CBT strategies is also assessed as part of the training.

Course content

This exciting new elective course aims to give participants an opportunity to learn how to help patients better manage chronic or persisting pain problems in the context of hand therapy practice. Using an online webinar format, and between webinar activities, the program provides participants with an opportunity to develop competence in the application of core Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) methods for managing patients with persisting pain.

The course consists of 7 webinar sessions (each of 90 minutes) conducted over 2-3 months. Participants explore and learn about specific strategies in each session, which must then be applied between sessions. The breakdown of the sessions is as follows:

Session 1: Patient assessment & case formulation

Session 2: Explaining case formulation to the patient

Session 3: Identifying SMART goals & using motivational interviewing

Session 4: Employing self-management skills & developing a treatment plan

Session 5: Reinforcing treatment program & maintenance strategies - Part 1

Session 6: Reinforcing treatment program & maintenance strategies - Part 2

Session 7: Integration of CBT skills

Learning outcomes

At the completion of this course, therapists will be able to:

  • Identify the key biopsychosocial principles underpinning the assessment of chronic pain patients in a hand therapy context
  • Use appropriate questioning techniques when assessing chronic pain patients in a hand therapy context
  • Explain the multifaceted nature of pain problems to a patient in a hand therapy context
  • Engage patients in the case formulation process in a hand therapy context
  • Assist patients in determining Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely goals in a hand therapy context
  • Design and plan a treatment program based on the case formulation and goal setting
  • Plan and conduct a series of treatment sessions based on the initial treatment program plan
  • Plan for maintenance following a treatment program
  • Outline a comprehensive case presentation to other health professionals
  • Discuss the application and integration of CBT skills in hand therapy practice
Participant feedback

I recently completed the Pain Management Skills Course as an elective unit for the AHT credential. I was looking for a course that would teach me new skills but still complement those that we use in our busy hospital-based outpatient setting. In the past I wondered if implementation of a lengthy CBT program would be valuable - especially given the wealth of pain management modalities that are already available to hand therapists. Thankfully, I’m pleased to say that this course was well worth the outlay, and I’ve been able to apply the CBT techniques with immediate effect in both new and existing patient treatment plans.

The course was led by the multidisciplinary lecturing team at Sydney University and provided insights from experienced professionals from physiotherapy and psychology backgrounds. The open dialogue seminar series was very well delivered. The presenters were professional, knowledgeable, and personable; they did a great job of combining theoretical examples and practical techniques to address real life patient queries from participant's active caseloads.

The pre-reading content was comprehensive without being laborious; including a mix of well-established articles and a useful pain management textbook – all mailed to you prior to course commencement. The preparation for each week allowed me to make the most of the content and helped to keep the concepts connected between sessions.

A group of Australia-wide participants and I would meet via Zoom with the facilitators for weekly meetings over the two-month duration. It was also great to have the chance to hear from therapists with a range of hand therapy backgrounds, often the cases they presented helped answer questions that I had for my own caseload. As a full-time therapist with a busy family life, I found these shorter frequent sessions fit conveniently with work and family arrangements.

The course content provided a solid framework that could be efficiently built into patient sessions without compromising other rehabilitation goals. Topics such as pacing, problem-solving, management of unhelpful thoughts, relaxation, flare-up management and exercise provision seemed to match well with sessions that we as therapists may already tend to provide.

Something I really liked about the course was that it allowed you to take the skills learned for the week and practice them immediately with patients or colleagues. The process encourages you to reflect on what you discovered personally as well as gathering any feedback from your patients before returning to the facilitators the following session to debrief. This felt like a great way to solidify the skills before moving on to the next technique.

The additional resources made available to participants have proven to be invaluable. Some examples of these include outcome measures, videos and scripts, audio files and worksheets – all of which have become tools available in my clinical practice.

If you’re interested in other options for your chronic pain patients, feel like you’d like more structure in their management plan, or want to provide a treatment that fits with other CBT trained professionals in your multidisciplinary team, then please do consider the Pain Management Skills Course for your continuing professional development.

Scott Pickering, AHT, WA.

Refer below for additional participant feedback.


Refer to Course Assessment Policy.

Participants may choose to undertake the assessment.

Completing and passing the assessment is a requirement for those wishing to apply to become an Accredited Hand Therapist.

1.     Formative assessment, to be undertaken by all participants.

  • Between each session, participants are expected to practice the skills covered with their patients. These tasks are designed to give participants an opportunity to practice and reflect on the skills covered in each session.
  • Participants are expected to submit a brief summary of their skills practice (each session) to present to the group.

2.     Summative assessment

There are two components to the final course assessment. Those doing the course for CPD points should do the first two parts of the skills assessment to get the most out of the course (Part A, see below). Elective participants should also submit Part B, either option 1 or option 2 as outlined below. 

Part A: Skills assessment (to demonstrate competency)

  • Submission of a formal case presentation workbook documenting the application of CBT skills with a patient
  • Submission of a brief PowerPoint summary of this case to present to the group on the final session

Part B: CBT application in a hand therapy context

Option 1: Practical assessment

Submission of 4 video recordings demonstrating the application of the CBT skills in their practice, including:

  • 1 x video demonstrating the participant's skill in explaining chronic pain to a hand therapy patient,
  • 1 x video demonstrating the participant's skill explaining a case formulation to a hand therapy patient, and
  • 2 x videos demonstrating the participants skill in teaching a hand therapy patient a self-management technique (this technique could be introducing goal setting, pacing, applied relaxation, thought management, problem-solving, or planning for flare-ups)
  • Submission of a 500-word reflection on their application of the skills in practice

Option 2: Written assessment

Submission of a complex case review on the application of CBT in a hand therapy context. The case review must include the following components:

Part A: Case outline (500-750 words)

  • Brief case presentation/history
  • Problem formulation
  • Assessment tools
  • Treatment approach 

Part B: Case Discussion (1000 words)

  • Using the literature, discuss how you have applied the theory and concepts you have learnt about to manage the case effectively. 

Part C: Reflection on outcomes (250-500 words)

  • Document your reflections and insights about the use of CBT for hand therapy patients.

Make sure you have a good balance between describing and analysing your case study. Try not to fall into the trap of being too descriptive when writing about your case. Some ways to include analysis are:

  • Explaining and giving reasons
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Making suggestions and recommendations
  • Supporting your ideas with information from sources

Note: Each course will accommodate between 8-10 participants to allow time for homework presentation/feedback and to foster discussion about the content. The curriculum is subject to change from time to time. Guest presenters may at times deliver certain topics based on their expertise and availability.

If a registered participant submits a course assessment late, marks are deducted up to seven days and after that, the AHTA reserves the right to fail a participant who does not submit their assessment within seven days of the due date.

Participants who cannot complete the assessment as scheduled and advertised will forfeit the option of a Certificate of Attainment. A Certificate of Attendance will be provided.


This is a certificate workshop, so participants are encouraged to undertake the assessments that will allow them to claim 50 CPD hours for attendance and successful completion of assessment components. Participants not wishing to undertake the assessment may only claim 36 hours of credit for attendance. For those wishing to apply to become an Accredited Hand Therapist with the AHTA, this is an elective course and successful assessment and completion of all components is a requirement for your application.  

This course is an Entrustable Professional Activity, completion of this course can be seen to be an EPA for the use of CBT in clinical hand practice.

Participants will receive 50 CPD hours if they complete and pass the assessment. 


Member discount

Discounts apply for Associates and Accredited Hand Therapists.

To become a member of the association, please click here

To book

To book your place:

Login or create an account

Go to the Course & event registration and click purchase event. 

The course will be delivered via the University of Sydney, all details will be sent to participants before the event.

All participants will need to sign a permission form for their details to be shared with the University of Sydney.


Non-Member $2000 inc GST

Associate $1300 inc GST

Accredited Hand Therapist $1200 inc GST

To become a member of the Association please click here

Please read the Course Cancellation Policy before booking your place on this course.


The AHTA has a standard for course times as follows:

Face-to-face courses are held from 9.00 am – 5.30 pm local time.

Online courses are held from 9.00 am – 5.30 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).

Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)* is from 2.00 am on the first Sunday in April to 2.00 am on the first Sunday in October. 

Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT)+ is from 2.00 am on the first Sunday in October to 2.00 am on the first Sunday in April. 

*Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) is local time for VIC, NSW, ACT, QLD and TAS. 

If you are in SA, WA, or NT you must check the time difference.

+Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) is local time for VIC, NSW, ACT and TAS.

If you are in QLD, WA, SA or NT you must check the time difference.

If you are not certain, use this website to convert:

Before you attend


Participants will be provided with all course materials, workbook, headset for use during the webinars, ongoing assessment tools for use with patients, and a copy of the book 'Manage Your Pain' by Michael Nicholas et al.


Photography and filming

Images taken at our workshops may be used for promotion and evaluation, including press releases, publicity materials, newsletters, eNews, social media, presentations and our website. Images will not be accompanied by names or other details that could identify individuals. If you DO NOT consent to be filmed or photographed during an AHTA course, you must Contact us and advise the presenter on the first day of the course.

Participant feedback

I got more than I bargained for in this AHTA course. The presenters are highly experienced in the persistent pain field, and the lectures were easy to fit in one evening a week over seven weeks. Homework could be done at your own pace and involved case studies you find in your own work or personal life. These case study tasks provided opportunities to put into practice new knowledge and skills, and helpful feedback was provided for further growth. Learning these new skills has greatly improved my interactions with clients who have persistent pain in the following ways:

I now feel more confident to know what questions to ask to explore ideas about pain with, rather than explaining to, my clients. 

I thought I knew enough about pacing, but now have a clear step-by-step process to coach clients to success. One of my case studies achieved amazing results by becoming far more independent and getting off her opioids - largely by using this pacing method alone. 

Some of the methods taught such as problem-solving, although simple, change the dynamic completely - from being the advice giver, to collaboration with the client, a process that works to achieve healthier, lifelong habits.  

Relaxation – This course has expanded my understanding of relaxation because it specifically applies relaxation to pain. This approach may sound counter-intuitive at first, but used skilfully can be a significant turning point. 

Some skills taught were entirely new to me, including how to go through a case formulation with a client. This enlightening activity has the means to shift the client's focus away from their counter-productive striving for immediate analgesic relief. 

Thought management was also novel to me. It is used in flare-up planning and management of thoughts about pain, or any aspect of how the pain is disrupting the person’s life. This skill can be honed over your entire working life, with inherent potential to provide a crucial tool of support and meaningful change for our clients.

In summary, I would say this course has been integrated into both my hand therapy and telehealth CRPS practice more than any other short course so far. Yes, it can be challenging to dedicate time to this kind of work in public and private hand therapy settings, but it is definitely possible. I highly recommend investing your time in this informative and practical course. You won’t regret it.

By Rosie Gospel, OT, AHT & Embodiment Coach, Compassionate Hands for CRPS & Peregian Springs Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Centre

Intellectual property disclaimer

The Intellectual Property rights for the webinar program and materials are owned by the Pain Management Research Institute, The University of Sydney.


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