The benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy for fibromyalgia patients
BY STELLA JONES
According to Juan V. Luciano, Ph.D., a psychologist and researcher at Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona, Spain said, “there is an agreement among the researchers that fibromyalgia syndrome may not be a single disease and the subcategories of the fibromyalgia patients may be identifiable.” He also adds, “Developing meaningful treatments that patients benefit from over their lifetime remains a major challenge in providing clinical care” for the disease.
Exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are the two most studies methods of the treatment for fibromyalgia sufferers apart from the pharmaceuticals. CBT is a type of talk therapy that can help you in identifying and coming up with the specific challenges that include fibromyalgia symptoms. Exercise helps in alleviating pain while CBT helps in addressing the psychological aspects that are linked with fibromyalgia. Luciano says, “Fibromyalgia sufferers learn such techniques through CBT that help them to manage their symptoms in a better way and develop different attitude towards pain.”
The Bigger concept
While using CBT, the main objective to help fibromyalgia specifically is that changing negative and distrustful thoughts that also includes self-defeating behaviors. For instance, have you ever noticed how frequently you think negatively about yourself and about your inability to live and do the things the way you always wished and used to? There are just a few people who actually understand to how much extent these kinds of thoughts strengthen our pain, fatigue and emotional and mental states. The New York Times says, “By using certain tasks and self-observation, patients learn to think about the pain as something other than a negative factor that is controlling their life. As time passes, the thought that they are helpless vanishes and they learn to manage their pain.”
So the main concept here is to don’t let your fibromyalgia manage you, in fact, try to manage your fibromyalgia. And this can be done by changing the way you think about your pain. Obviously, this can’t be happening overnight. It is a process and needs a variety of methods.
How does this therapy work?
Following are some things that you can expect when you take benefit of CBT, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists:
- Meet with your cognitive behavioral therapists for 30-60 minutes for at least 5-20 times (approx. 6 weeks- 6 months).
- You and your therapist will break down the larger issue of fibromyalgia into smaller chunks, after some initial work.
- usually, a journal is needed for identifying patterns of thought, bodily feelings, emotions and actions.
- The therapist will help you in working out the best way to manage the patterns from unhelpful to liberating or empowering.
- The therapist will also help you in setting limits and prioritize for managing physical and mental stress that discourages fibromyalgia sufferers.
Your symptoms or the mindset are not fixed in one session or overnight by cognitive behavioral therapy. There are a lot of fibromyalgia sufferers who feel so exhausted that they start feeling that CBT is not worth their time at this stage. This is true that you don’t feel motivated by anything and you can’t even focus on things when you feel so poorly miserable. That is why therapists are there to guide you through the process.
Does this therapy really work?
There are a lot of studies that have proved that cognitive behavioral therapy is comparable to medications that are used to reduce the pain and negative thoughts in fibromyalgia sufferers. Moreover, less cost is there on CBT as compared to pharmaceutical treatments. However, CBT is not covered by all insurance companies. Don’t let this thing stop you. A lot of therapists are there that work with patients on a sliding scale. They even often feature them in the online listing. It can be easy for you to search for local, verified cognitive behavioral therapists by using the Psychology Today directory. Thumbtack is another resource that can also be a good option for the people who are in remote places or are house-bound. You will be connected by the therapists from this resource from the entire country and these therapists will not only work on a sliding scale but also conduct sessions over the phone or video calls. Keep in mind to search for “cognitive behavioral therapist” specifically from any kind of resource.
You don’t need to get worried if you find yourself back into the old habits after going through CBT. The tools are still applicable that you get from your therapy. it will be easier for you get out from the rut that fibromyalgia can put you in.