Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Group therapies are usually led by credentialed, professional therapists, and are generally organized around teaching specific skills such as relaxation, meditation, imagery, pain control, stress reduction, and coping with the stress of illness.
In one study to determine the effectiveness of group therapy, fifty-nine cancer patients who took the Self-Help Intensive at the Cancer Support and Education Center, Menlo Park, California was studied. The ten-day, sixty-hour program helps people with imagery and relaxation training, lifestyle change, emotional expression, strengthening fighting spirit, and using their ill- ness as a teacher. The study showed that those attending the group therapy had shown significant improvements in emotional expression, fighting spirit, and several aspects of quality of life. People in even the more advanced stages of illness can benefit from such training. The benefits were still present three months after completing the program, indicating that the effects can be lasting. Another study of forty-eight patients with HIV who took the same Self-Help Intensive found significant improvement in emotional expression and health locus of control, and reduced tension, anxiety , fatigue, depression, and total mood disturbance.
These and other studies have shown that group therapy and psychological interventions can boost the immune system. The subjects reported improved psychological coping skills and immune functioning.
A growing body of evidence shows that group therapy is beneficial for people with immune-related illnesses. It is quite likely that when people with CFS are studied, we will have a similar outcome since one of the hallmarks of CFS is immune deficiency. When seeking out a group program make sure that the person who is leading it is experienced in CFS.
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