recommended for vitiligo
My recent post about talking therapies prompted a very positive comment from one reader (thanks, Erin) who has derived significant benefit from undergoing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). She says “…I have felt much better about my continually spreading vitiligo since doing cognitive behaviour therapy. I would highly recommend this to any vitiligo patient. A great resource is also Skin Deep written by Grossbart. Very very insightful …” (You can download a free copy of this book Skin Deep: A Mind/Body Program for Healthy Skin by Ted A. Grossbart, Ph.D. and Carl Sherman, Ph.D. here.)
Another #vitiligo sufferer in the UK who has used this therapy to her benefit is Maxine Whitton, former President of The Vitiligo Society and tireless advocate for people with this condition. She underwent nine months of CBT and believes it should be an integral part of any treatment protocol for people with skin disease. She says: "I was told to look in the mirror without wearing make-up and tell myself that although I had vitiligo, it was only a part of me and that I wasn't hideous. It gave me a sense of perspective and taught me to accept my appearance…”
So what exactly is CBT? It is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.
It cannot remove your problems (or, in this case, take away your vitiligo) but it can help you deal with them in a more positive way. It is based around the idea that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are all interdependent and that negative thoughts and emotions can trap you in a vicious cycle.
CBT aims to help you halt this cycle by breaking down the problems that overwhelm you into smaller parts and showing you how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.
A major difference between CBT and some better-known talking treatments is that it deals with your current problems rather than delving into issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind that can then be practised on a daily basis to make you feel better.
If you live in the UK you may be able to get your GP to refer you for CBT on the NHS. If not, the cost of private therapy sessions varies, but it is usually £40-£100 per session. You will usually have a session with a therapist once a week or once every two weeks. The course of treatment will usually last for between 5 and 20 sessions, with each session lasting 30-60 minutes.
#Research into how CBT can help vitiligo sufferers feel more positive about their skin is encouraging: see this list of search results and this paper in particular.
I generally only recommend treatments and products that I have tried myself and found to work. But, whilst I have never used any kind of talking therapy myself for vitiligo or for anything else, it makes very good sense to me and, had such a treatment been available when my vitiligo was at its worst, I feel sure I would have tried it. It seems to me that one of the most distressing features of vitiligo is how isolating it can be, especially if you don’t have anyone in your family to talk to about it. Support groups and forums go a long way toward addressing this problem but the one-to-one therapy that CBT offers is obviously designed to deliver a more personalised benefit to the patient and to give the individual greater control over how they feel about their condition.
My name is Caroline.