IACFS/ME President Dr. Fred Friedberg Assesses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in ME/CFS

Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Benefits, Limitations, and Open Questions – Source: Quarterly Bulletin of the IACFS/ME, Winter 08-09

By Fred Friedberg, PhD

Note: Dr. Fred Friedberg, President of the International Association of CFS/ME (IACFS/ME), specializes in studies of behavioral treatment of ME/CFS/FM and other chronic pain conditions at Stony Brook (NY) University. In this article, he provides a critical perspective on the assumptions shaping cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) use and trials for ME/CFS patients – suggesting that neither a complete rejection of this model’s value nor an uncritical endorsement is in the patients' best interest.

The cognitive-behavioral model of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) postulates fear-based avoidance behavior and physical deconditioning to explain symptoms and impairments.

This article examines these assumptions and provides a brief critical perspective of CBT trials in patients with CFS.

Although CBT is effective to varying degrees in reducing symptoms and improving functioning, published reports often do not address:

a. The influence of baseline functioning on intervention rationale;

b. Clinical vs. statistical significance of outcomes;

c. Patient non-response to CBT; and

d. The potential role of biological variables in predicting response to intervention.

A balanced assessment of the effectiveness of CBT in CFS is important in providing accurate information to both professionals and patients.

Source: Bulletin of the IACFS/ME – Vol 16 (4) pp 22-27. To read the full text of this article at the IACFS/ME website, CLICK HERE

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