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CFS Toolkit - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an individualized, structured, goal-oriented form of therapy that aims to change symptoms and illness supporting behaviors.

  • CBT is used for medical and psychological illnesses. It has also been used to help people recover from cardiovascular disease, sleep disorders, diabetes, cancer, and orthopedic injuries.
  • CBT has been shown to be effective for some patients with CFS.
  • CBT makes patients aware of the stressors that make symptoms worse.
  • CBT is often combined with increased physical activity or gradual exercise therapy.
  • Trained healthcare professionals, such as psychologists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, can all guide a person through CBT.
  • CBT must be paced, personalized, and tailored to the individual’s level.
  • In order for CBT to be successful, people in CBT must take personal responsibility for change.
  • If CBT is not covered by insurance, people with CFS can substitute a provider who is knowledgeable about CFS. This provider can lead CFS patients to understand how their behavior is impacting the illness, and set up activity and exercise programs that are useful.

Local mental health professional groups, physical and occupational therapists, or health care organizations can be contacted to find a certified cognitive therapist.


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