Certificate in Pain Management

Please note: We are offering online courses via Zoom video conferencing and will start incorporating face 2 face courses as soon as possible

Certificate Overview

The Certificate in Pain Management aims at providing all medical professionals and clinicians with a comprehensive understanding of pain management. The full certificate consists of 6 interactive modules completed within three years.

Each module is a stand-alone course on understanding pain mechanisms, communication skills, principles of assessment and treatment, and targeted treatment protocols, including exercise and stress management tools. Each module consists of two full days of interactive learning online with two instructors present. In addition, to complete the certificate, a written online exam must be completed at the end of each module to consolidate the learning.

Candidates are eligible to enrol for Module 6 after completing the five modules and passing the respective exams. This final module aims to integrate and apply knowledge gained over the previous modules and takes place over three months. It consists of group work, case study assignments and weekly supervised discussions.

Certificate outline

Module 1: Principles of Pain

Lecturers: Beverley Bolton (MSc Med Pain Management) and Romy Parker (PhD)

Content: This course aims to provide a theoretical framework for health care professionals to use in the management of people with acute and chronic pain. Using a combined didactic and workshop approach, the facilitators will present the evidence that pain is a bio-psychosocial construct. 

 *Foundational module for all health care professionals

Module 2: Clinical Communication Skills

Facilitators: Beverley Bolton (MSc Med Pain Management) and Jacqui Koep (MSc Pain)

Content: Our clinical competence depends on our knowledge, problem-solving abilities, physical assessment, and communication skills with patients. Our clinical outcomes depend not only on what we say but also on how we say it. Communication is a core clinical skill that, like all core competencies, needs to be learnt and practiced. This experiential workshop aims to improve the skills necessary to ensure an accurate, effective and supportive consultation with patients. The course references a large body of evidence supporting specific communication skills in health care consultations.

 *Foundational module for all health care professionals

Module 3: Clinical Assessment and Planning (prev. Pain Interventions)

Lecturers:  Romy Parker (PhD) and Linda Hiemstra (Bachelor of OT degree)


This course aims to provide clinicians with a framework for the practical assessment of patients presenting with complex pain conditions. Assessment tools to identify barriers to recovery and the appropriate use of questionnaires will be covered. Physical assessment tools to determine specific pain mechanisms will be demonstrated. By the end of the course, participants will be able to identify which assessment tools to utilise for each patient presentation and how to use the knowledge gained to plan a treatment program with the patient.

 *Foundational module for all health care professionals

Module 4: Prescribing for Pain

Lecturers:  Prof. Romy Parker, Dr. Kerry-Ann Louw and Dr. Roland van Rensburg 

Content: This course aims to provide prescribing health care professionals with the knowledge and skills to use an evidence-informed, mechanism-based approach for the management of people with pain. This course will use a combined didactic and workshop approach. Attendees are given pre-recorded lectures on pain physiology, mechanism-based clinical reasoning, and the pharmacology of drugs used in pain management. Attendees then participate in a one-day online workshop where the facilitators present cases and engage attendees in clinical reasoning processes for assessing and managing pain, focusing on multi-modal biopsychosocial pain management.

 *Foundational module for prescribing health care professionals

Module 4: Designing Effective Treatment

Lecturers: Melissa Saw (MSc Physio) & Janet Keet (MPhil Sports Physio)

Content: This course aims to enable healthcare professionals to systematically approach complex chronic conditions and effectively deliver evidence-based interventions to restore patients to their valued lives. A Pain Education Empowerment Programme (PEEP) workbook is supplied to each participant. The workbook provides a guide that facilitates patient engagement and participation. Health care professionals working with patients with chronic health conditions such as chronic pain conditions (e.g. CLBP, fibromyalgia), osteoarthritis, pain in HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue/ME and Long Covid will benefit from attending this course.

 *Foundational module for all health care professionals

Elective Modules

Exercise for Pain Rehabilitation

Facilitators:  Jacqui Koep (MSc Pain) and Scott Rickard (MSc Physio), BSc (Med)(Hons) Exercise Science.

Content: Participants will explore the interface between exercise physiology and pain mechanisms and how to apply these principles to clinical conditions. Practical exercise tools for assessment and treatment will be demonstrated. How to use exercise to assist with resetting self-regulatory systems, such as the immune system and autonomic nervous system, will be explored. Evidence-based use of exercises specific to common pain conditions such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and low back pain will be demonstrated.

*Elective module option for rehabilitation professionals

Pain and the stress-response systems

Presenters: Jacqui Koep (MSc Pain) and Dr. Gaby Prinsloo (MB ChB) (PhD)

Content: This course will cover the physiology and function of the immune system, autonomic nervous system, and endocrine system. Participants will be equipped with the latest research and evidence on how these systems may influence the experience of pain and how the ongoing experience of pain impacts the functioning of these systems. Practical tools on how to assist patients with self-regulating these systems will be demonstrated.

*Elective module option for all health care professionals

Module 6: Translating Knowledge into Practice

This is the final module needed to complete the Pain Management Certification. The core principle of this  module is to embed the knowledge gained through the previous five modules. The interactive 12-week online format includes working in groups, weekly discussion sessions and three written assignments.

Certificate outline

At the end of the 6 module course, a successful candidate:

Will be able to use analytical, critical and evaluative thinking to allow valid and flexible assessment and treatment approaches for pain using an integrative interdisciplinary biopsychosocial approach tailored to the individual. 

Is a professional with a fundamental respect for the ethical management of people with pain who overtly integrates the principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy and justice.

Will be patient centered in their approach and using reflective and collaborative communication strategies will empower the patient to be able to self-manage their condition.

Is able to develop an evidence informed diagnostic formulation having engaged with the scientific process continuously participating in the iterative process of reflective practice.

Recognises the need to adopt lifelong learning to be able to continue to develop as an autonomous self-directed pain practitioner.

Is a professional who has confidence in their ability to provide diverse, complex solutions which are tailored to the individual in pain depending on the context, condition and the individuals values and goals.