Therapy at Home?
I am always interested in learning about different types of therapy and what benefits they might bring to my fight with illness. I recently read about the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in the home. That’s right, at home, no therapist (for the most part) and except for the cost of a book or app; it’s free! I will admit that I was a little surprised that I had not heard of this. While I knew a good bit about CBT, I didn’t really know that it could be effective without the regular guidance of a trained clinician. I may have overlooked this, as I am the type that loves going to an office, sitting on the couch and baring my soul to my therapist. Yes...I am that neurotic. Anyway, how is this type of therapy done at home and are you qualified to be your own therapist? Let’s see.
Cognitive behavioral therapy at home
Interestingly enough, I found out about this self-directed approach to CBT by researching IBS related issues. I found a particular study that actually showed that self-directed CBT was just as effective for IBS related anxiety, stress and depression than actually going to the office to sit with a therapist.1 I believe the reasons for this are two-fold. One, is that people who are struggling with IBS related mental health issues are very often reacting to the strain that IBS has put on their lives and not with a particular chemical imbalance (like bi-polar disorder, which I have). The pain that is experienced by living with IBS or some other chronic condition creates distorted and negative thought processes that can be counteracted with CBT. Learning the techniques to balance these negative thoughts and the accompanying anxiety and depression is very doable for someone in their own home with the right tools and information. It is a lot like meditation or exercise in that it simply requires diligence and practice. The second reason why 'at home' therapy may work for those of us with IBS, is that it doesn’t add one more ‘appointment’ to our already hectic lives. It is one less medical bill we have to deal with, one less place we need to be and one less obligation we have to attend to. This is very important to those of us who feel overwhelmed with our day to day mission.
How to get started with at-home cognitive behavioral therapy
It is suggested that the way to get started with the at-home process is by first visiting a therapist (yes, in the office) for three to five visits to become oriented to CBT. This will set you up for success. Afterwards, there is a wealth of information about at-home CBT on the internet, with various tutorials, guides and apps to support you. Sounds good, huh?
I do feel a need to say a word about therapy, though. As has been mentioned here many times before, there is an obvious correlation between mental health related issues (such as anxiety, depression, anger) and IBS. I am sure we all have our opinions about how much they correspond and which came first, the IBS or the mental health stuff, but I think we can agree that very often they go hand in hand. That said, as a sort of disclaimer, I am of the opinion that if your mental health issues are advanced enough, that you should probably seek the guidance of a trained professional. While therapists are expensive, hard to get to and difficult to schedule around, I truly believe in this process.
Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?