Behavioral Medicine Clinical Services

Management of Chronic Medical Conditions

Many people face the challenges of dealing with one or more chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, irritable colon, multiple sclerosis, lupus, etc. These daily challenges may include interference with one’s ability to work, do household chores, or engage in leisure activities. Moreover, changes in relationships and changes in how one views oneself may be related to one’s chronic medical condition. Over time, these challenges may become stressful and overwhelming. Acting quickly to address feelings of stress, frustration, anxiety, and/or sadness is important. Prolonged stress, anxiety, and/or depression may lead to poor eating habits, inactivity, and difficulties sticking to medications and treatments which may make your recovery from an illness or management of your chronic medical condition more complicated and further compromise your physical health. Several research studies have supported the effectiveness of psychotherapy in helping people with chronic medical conditions to cope.

Who Might Benefit?

Many people may benefit from learning to identify and manage the factors that contribute to negative mood and difficulties in sticking to medical treatments and good health behaviors. Understanding how unhelpful thought pattern contributes to the experience of physical and emotional distress and how to change our views to reduce the intensity of distress may be beneficial. In addition, learning techniques to deal with situations that may not be controllable as well as to take charge in situations that we can control may also be helpful.

What Should I Expect from My First Visit with a Psychologist?

The psychologist wants to understand how your medical condition(s) affects your life. You will be asked questions about the history and nature of your medical condition(s). There will be questions about past treatment attempts. There will be a focus on how your health status currently affects your work, relationships, home life, and leisure activities. The provider may ask you to fill out some questionnaires in advance to best understand you.

Strategies based on scientific evidence, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, teaches you how to recognize and cope with factors in your life that may worsen your functioning. It helps to understand how thoughts and behaviors affect your physical health and levels of emotional distress. You and the psychologist will set specific treatment goals together. Treatment may focus on any or all of the following:

  • Wellness Activities (Healthy Sleep, Physical Activity and Eating)
  • Relaxation Strategies and Stress Management Techniques
  • Modifying Thoughts to Make Them More Adaptive and Beneficial
  • Mindfulness Strategies and Increasing Engagement in Valued Activities
  • Pacing of Activities and Realistic Expectations for Undertaking Tasks
  • Communicating with Health Care Providers

Make an Appointment

Behavioral treatment is meant to empower you to act in your own best interests. Choosing comprehensive treatment helps you manage the difficulties in the many areas of your life that have been influenced by a chronic medical condition. If you are ready to approach the management of your chronic medical condition in a new way, pursue behavioral treatment by calling 401-793-8770.