What kind of therapy is this and how do I find it?
September 12, 2023 11:58 AM   Subscribe

I have been seeing a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a focus on people dealing with chronic illness (It me!). She's great and I've learned a lot but I would like to find a therapist who helps me practice those skills and build those muscles. How do I do that?

I've been seeing this therapist for about a year and a half. Initially, we tried lots of CBT moves but they weren't always a great fit for my situation. Basically, challenging thoughts which are largely true (I am ill. No one knows why. This is really hard even though I'm trying my best. Etc.) is not that helpful. There are not that many cognitive distortions at play she says.

I have, however, really benefited from some of the grounding exercises she's shared with me. And, at my request, we've started reading a book on ACT which feels like a better fit than CBT in a lot of ways but is not her area of training. She is also a bit passive and seems uncomfortable when I'm having a hard time-- suggests rescheduling the session for example.

I think what I would like is someone who acts more as a coach and helps me actually practice these moves, especially when I'm struggling with my health and feeling overwhelmed. Meditation, grounding, etc. do not come naturally to me. I would love to try them with someone facilitating and guiding me.

Is that a therapist? Is that a...life coach? Are there search terms I should be using on psychology today? (Because everyone says they do ACT and CBT along with a laundry list of other approaches.)

I am happy with Zoom sessions and am located in Somerville, MA. It would be great if the therapist took insurance but not a necessity. Experience with illness would be a plus but again not a requirement. Basically, I'm looking for guidance on how to find such a person or recommendations of a specific person. Thanks in advance!
posted by jeszac to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Addendum: If you grapple with chronic illness (think Chronic Fatigue/Long COVID) and have another form of therapy that has helped you, I am all ears.
posted by jeszac at 12:06 PM on September 12, 2023

The Guardian, Australia had a good article, March 2022 that might provide useful information.

posted by Enid Lareg at 12:18 PM on September 12, 2023

Best answer: You have essentially described my therapist. She does a lot of trauma-based therapy, which uses those grounding moves and has helped me deal with chronic illness using them. Her idea is to teach the body what "good" feels like (because the body is very good at imprinting "bad" on the mind). So maybe search trauma-focused, which is a category on Psychology Today.
posted by *s at 12:20 PM on September 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is a definite issue with or limitation of CBT. A therapist who focuses on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) might be in line with what you're looking for. I think you have very effectively described what you're seeking and why, and I'd present that explanation to any new professional that you try.
posted by LadyInWaiting at 1:39 PM on September 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a therapist and currently training in ACT and (though I'm not through training yet) it does sound like a fit for what you're looking for. It focuses on accepting that sometimes, things are not going to feel good or be resolved, and how to move on and create new goals anyway. It uses a lot of mindfulness techniques. That or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) would be my suggested Psychology Today search terms.

I'd suggest searching some other platforms where you get more of a therapist profile; I feel like the PT ones are a little skimpy and everyone just clicks every type of specialty. I like Therapy Den. Open Path Collective also operates in MA and is entirely made up of therapists who provide sliding scale.

As a chronically ill person, I get the best specific recommendations from providers from a local Facebook group dedicated to my disease. Facebook is a scourge but those groups are still pretty useful and often they are hyperlocal.
posted by assenav at 2:16 PM on September 12, 2023 [3 favorites]

Practical techniques in meditation and grounding, I have experienced in some yoga classes, believe it or not. (Sometimes meditations are just body scans or breathing exercises.) I haven’t done yoga in years so can’t recommend any particular company but maybe someone in a group related to your condition (or any condition) knows of someone great.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:43 PM on September 12, 2023

Best answer: Another search term you could use is somatic therapy or somatic experiencing. It's used by some trauma-based therapists but would be an additional thing to search on. There's also lots of somatic exercises on YouTube (including grounding) if you wanted to get a feel for it before contacting some therapists.
posted by daikon at 7:17 AM on September 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You could also look at therapists who do Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy, which has an increasing body of literature for chronic pain and illness, especially with looking at ways prior trauma or emotional stress manifest within the context of chronic illness/pain. If that's an issue for you, it might be a good fit.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:35 PM on September 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Was able to make an appointment using the terms suggested and searching via Therapy Den which is indeed a lot more useful than Psychology Today. Fingers crossed and thanks, everyone!
posted by jeszac at 5:10 PM on September 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

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