The NICE guideline describes CBT as: “An evidence-based psychological therapy that is used in many health settings, including cardiac rehabilitation and diabetes management.
“It is a collaborative treatment approach. When it is used for CFS/M.E., the aim is to reduce the levels of symptoms, disability and distress associated with the condition.
“A course of CBT is usually 12–16 sessions. The use of CBT does not assume or imply that symptoms are psychological or ‘made up’.”
Does it help?
CBT is not a cure but it may help some people to cope with the illness.
It is one of four treatments recently studied by the PACE Trial. The study found that 41% of trial participants rated themselves as “much” or “very much” better after cognitive behaviour therapy.
In 2008, 50% of people with M.E. who responded to Action for M.E.’s survey, saying they had received CBT, said it had helped them. Of the remaining 50%, 38% said it made no difference and 12% said it made them worse.
The NICE guideline makes it clear that CBT “should be delivered: by a suitably trained [GET or CBT] therapist with experience in CFS/ME, under appropriate clinical supervision.” People with M.E. who wish to try CBT should ask to be referred to a specialist CFS/M.E. clinic, where this expertise exists, if at all possible. Details of clinics are available in our online directory.
There have been no published randomised controlled trials of CBT in children or the more severely affected.
Find out more about how CBT may help.
Read past articles about CBT in our InterAction archive.