What therapies are available?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 

The Cognitive Behavioural model of illness concludes that the patient's "Interpretation of symptoms plays an important role in perpetuating the illness".

CBT is designed to help CFS patients regain a sense of control. The primary goals of CBT are to change any distorted perceptions that individuals have of the world and of themselves and to change their behaviour accordingly. For a CFS patient that means learning to think differently about their fatigue, improving their ability to deal with stressful situations and managing their condition. CBT can also help people manage their sleep problems by identifying unhelpful negative thoughts about their ability to go to sleep or stay asleep.

Patients are given homework, which usually includes keeping a diary and attempting tasks that they have avoided because of previous negative worries.

Using both self-observation and specific tasks, patients gradually shift their fixed ideas that they are helpless against the fatigue that dominates their lives. They move to the perception that fatigue is only one negative experience among many positive ones. 

"CBT changed my way of thinking and dealing with my symptoms...(I'm now) happier in myself" January 2016

"The patience, kindness and understanding I have received from my CBT therapist has been priceless and I would not have achieved everything I have if she didn't accompany me and guide me on my journey" January 2016

"The whole process has been very positive and enlightening. The clinic, the building and the whole experience is pleasant. My CBT therapist has helped me immensley. I have a good portion of my life back" February 2017

Occupational Therapy (Graded Activity Therapy) GAT / (Graded Exercise Therapy) GET

Occupational therapy enables people to achieve health, well-being and life satisfaction through participation in occupation (College of Occupational Therapists 2004). 

"Occupation" refers to practical and purposeful activities that allow us to live independently and give us a sense of identity. This could be anything from essential day-to-day tasks, such as dressing or cooking, to the things that make us who we are - our job, interests, hobbies and relationships. Occupational Therapy provides practical support to enable people to overcome any barriers that prevent them from doing the activities that matter to them, and helps to increase people's independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.

Occupational therapists are trained to analyse how tasks are comprised of mental, physical and emotional components and they help people with CFS to set and attain realistic goals for graded activity. Within the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Service you will address issues such as those listed below:

  • Restoring the balance between rest and activity.
  • Implementing Graded Activity Therapy (GAT) to help you work towards achieving the things you may need or want to do.
  • Lifestyle management - addressing sleep, relaxation and diet which may affect your CFS.
  • Support with 'Return to Work' programmes using the principles of grading and adaptation - to enable illness management strategies to be adapted to meet the demands of work situations.  We may be able to liaise with your employers/HR/Occupational Health or school/college regarding reasonable adjustments and or support with exams. The team uses guidance from the Equality Act 2010 to assist with help regarding work, school and college.
  • Problem-solving and practise of techniques to attain leisure and social goals. 

What is Graded Exercise Therapy (GET)?

We first establish how much activity you can achieve without making you feel more fatigued. We may use activity diaries and pedometer logs to gather this information.

GET involves regulating and gradually increasing physical activity. This will help manage your fatigue, improve physical fitness and your ability to carry out day to day tasks. These strategies aim to measure physical exercise by establishing your achievable baseline then gradually increasing the amount over a period of time.

Your GET program is tailored to your specific needs and goals, which will be discussed during your therapy sessions and set before commencing any activity or exercise.

Research has shown that a properly supervised and mutually agreed graded exercise programme helps the majority of patients to manage their symptoms and everyday activities. 

"All aspects (have been helpful), advice, support, coming to a clinic, relaxation CD, charts to follow. Having letters written for my employer to understand my condition. Having happy understanding people to help me with advice and support" January 2016

"My Occupational Therapist has been extremely helpful and I have really found the sessions useful. She has allowed me to feel positive about the situation and has made me feel confident and knowledgeable which enables me to control my symptoms and condition" January 2016

"Being helped to realise that it doesn't matter if I don't get everything done all of the time" February 2017

Other therapies 

Fatigue Management Group - A one off introductory group covering the basic fatigue management strategies; including pain management, relaxation, activity management, sleep and stress.

"Many topics and concerns were explained...(it has) given me a good positive start for dealing with this condition" October 2015

"Recognition...knowing that i'm not alone" October 2015

Relaxation group - A practical group designed to help patients learn the skill of relaxation. Relaxation reduces muscle tension, pain and fatigue; it can also improve motivation, mental awareness and sleep.

"Particularly valuable were the relaxation sessions - they were invaluable in helping me combat exhaustion"

"Great way to implement techniques to manage CFS/ME by different relaxation strategies...good to meet other people with the same condition...thoroughly useful sessions and I enjoyed attending"

Supporters workshop - An informative group designed to promote understanding of CFS among patient's friends and family.

"It was good to meet other carers and learn new ways / ideas as to how to deal with the situation more constructively - things I wouldn't have thought of without the workshop"

Vocational/work support group - Designed to explore issues around CFS and work, including legal aspects and reasonable adjustments to your workplace. It is designed to help patients currently in work or those hoping to return to voluntary or paid employment.

"When the DWP rep visited it gave me a lot of information I wasn't aware of"

"friendly, informative, respectful, educational"

"It is a really good group, very informative and a friendly, comfortable atmosphere...knowing you are not on your own"

TENS Machine - We have four TENS machines available for short term loan.

Relaxation CD'S -  We have Relaxation CD's available.

Pedometers - We have Pedometers available which can be a helpful monitoring tool for Graded Exercise Therapy.