Therapy Treatment or Training?

What is the difference between offering a training programme, a therapy or treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Long Covid and Burnout?

There is a great deal of controversy about being able to “ treat” chronic fatigue syndrome(CFS), also previously called M.E by many, and Long Covid (LC). The NICE Guidelines after years of campaigning by the M.E
Association, now say that they do not recommend any treatment that has not been clinically trialled and people have to learn to “manage their symptoms”

However, a vast number of clinicians, researchers and scientists are vehemently opposed to this depressing and hopeless outcome for sufferers and are actively redressing the balance brought on by the M.E Association and other campaigners for a purely medical model for these conditions.

The “Oslo Chronic Fatigue Consortium, comprising a dedicated group of researchers, clinicians and patient representatives is challenging the prevailing notion that CFS and post viral conditions, including Long Covid are incurable. Four decades and huge amounts of money researching the medical model has done nothing to find any medical or physical cause or treatment- yes there are physical metabolic symptoms but these are a consequence of the condition not the cause. They are now proposing a new model for these conditions based on a neurobiological model, which is influenced by social and emotional factors.

There will be more on this in the next blog and webinar, but for now, where does that leave you the patient and sufferer?

It means there is great hope because when the condition is being recognised and evidenced by scientists, researchers and clinicians as a neurobiological stress condition, we can reverse the situation: just as chronic pain is now recognised in the majority of cases to be a neurological condition, so chronic fatigue and related conditions affecting the immune system, cognition, gut and other “ sympathetic system” symptoms is being recognised as a malfunction of neurological circuits which send signals to the body (symptoms) and in turn are influenced by environmental and internal feedback.

In my book “ Breaking Free: A Guide to Recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Long Covid Symptoms” I referred to the neurobiological model, upon which all my suggestions for recovery are based. Just as with chronic pain, when the circuit is firing off inappropriate signals ( felt as symptoms), we can teach people to break the circuit, stop the brain running amok and putting us into survival mode, either feeling over activated in fight or flight or shutdown in freeze/ reptilian survival mode. The Reset to Thrive programme is a training programme to show people how to break the circuit by giving physical and cognitive feedback that we are safe, competent and capable of dealing with events and situations without the need for evolutionary survival systems.

So what is the difference between a training, a therapy or a treatment?

While training programmes, therapy, and treatment might have overlapping goals or methodologies, they differ in their primary purposes and approaches.

The purpose of a training programme is to impart knowledge, develop skills, or enhance specific abilities in individuals or groups. It focuses on educating people how they can apply resources, tools and exercises to effect change and retrain the body/ neural pathways to fire off appropriately. You have spent your life making changes, learning and growing through study, education, social settings, hobbies and leisure and this is no different. People often refer to this as “ neuroplasticity” when we learn something new and our neural pathways make new connections then respond accordingly. Your body also respond according to what the brain has learnt about a situation, hence why with CFS/LC researchers talk about the body now reacting with stress to what were “neutral events” like activity or stairs. The training in the book and online offers instructions and exercises as well as visual aid, whilst the Reset to Thrive programme also offers live interactive webinars to learn in a group or 121 coaching to learn what specific needs are to achieve goals and outcomes. It is very much about empowering and skilling up an individual, so they have the tools and resources to improve.

Therapy is conducted by licensed professionals such as psychologists, counsellors, or psychotherapists and somatic practitioners, relying on the expertise of a professional to assist overcoming certain hurdles. In the Reset to Thrive programme, we have two somatic practitioners as the illness itself, or previous trauma and events, can make it difficult to learn new tools and skills whilst the symptoms are so prevalent and all encompassing. Furthermore, for anyone who has experienced adverse childhood experiences, adverse emotional and social experiences in adulthood including dysfunctional relationships, stressful situations or been affected by the trauma of the illness itself, we have a number of affiliated, highly qualified therapists, working with various therapeutic approaches, including EMDR ( Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) or NLP ( neurolinguistic programming) and systemic therapies.

Treatment is a broader term encompassing interventions aimed at addressing physical, mental, or emotional issues, typically to alleviate symptoms or cure a condition. It can target various aspects, including medical conditions. Treatments vary widely based on the specific issue being addressed. They can involve medical interventions, medication, therapy, rehabilitation and training or a combination of approaches depending on the nature and severity of the condition.

In essence, while training programmes focus on education and skill development, therapy primarily addresses trauma, mental health and emotional well-being, and treatment encompasses a broader range of interventions to address physical, mental, or emotional issues for the purpose of healing or improvement.

Reset to Thrive does not offer any medical intervention, a medical “cure” or medical advice but does offer training, coaching, Timeline Therapy, Partswork, and referral to one of our somatic practitioners, who are also fatigue coaches, and referral to affiliated therapists.

The M.E Association are actively engaged in shutting down access to support for sufferers searching for any help through training or other treatment because they are sticking rigidly to the “ medical model” that CFS and all related conditions is a medical problem with a physical cause and will only recommend medication/ drugs to sufferers and manage symptoms until a miracle cure/ medicine is discovered. They vehemently resist the notion that stress, overload, trauma or other factors affected the condition or maintain the condition, maybe because 40 years ago there was a stigma attached to succumbing to stress, trauma or overload. Today, thank goodness there is much more openness as strong, capable people acknowledge that our culture is riddled with stressors, overload and unrealistic demands. The illness itself and how it affects our well being and life is in itself a stressor, firing off neurological pathways that deal with survival.

The M.E Association lodge formal complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to stop any practitioner based in the UK from stating that they can help/ support or suggest recovery for CFS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Long Covid and related symptoms. Hence my website and all the other websites cannot mention CFS, chronic fatigue syndrome, long covid, mention symptoms or mention recovery, help or support.

Thank goodness then for the OSLO Committee who are intent on reversing this campaign to stop any sufferer accessing help, to recognise that it is a neurological condition that CAN be reversed. We can retrain our neurological system to turn off the circuits currently running and fire off other circuits which in turn activate the vagal system that is needed for the body to heal and repair itself. As Naviaux, a physiologist explains: the body needs the “ all clear signal to know it is safe to heal” and the healing cycle can only be completed when the vagal nerve is activated and cannot heal when we are in survival mode. (2020).

Until next time, when we explore the neurological model more, rejoice in knowing that retraining the neural pathways and learning how to respond differently to physical, social and emotional events can really help turn things around. All the best Jan

Categories: Neurological Retraining and Treatments.