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A Resource for Moms with Kids Who Have Special Needs

A Resource for Moms with Kids Who Have Special Needs

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can provide many benefits to women who care for kids with chronic health conditions.

To paraphrase something the actress Allison Janney once said: “If June Cleaver [Barbara Billingsley] made women in the 1950s and 60s feel bad because they didn’t measure up to her all-too-perfect mom character in Leave it to Beaver, my character on [the TV sitcom] MOM should make moms everywhere feel great!”

Well, laughter is great medicine. But there’s something else that can make moms, especially those caring for children with special needs, feel better about themselves: cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.

Researchers at the University of Louisville have found that brief CBT sessions—just five, 45- to 60-minute meetings—significantly improved the mental state of women who take care of children with chronic health conditions, such as cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis. The therapists also believe that CBT works in any situation where mothers are emotionally stretched because of a child’s complex health condition.

One therapist describes the women as feeling isolated and blue because they couldn’t hire a babysitter who knew how to deal with their child’s special needs—and consequently couldn’t find a way to spend time with friends. But even if such situations didn’t change, after therapy, the moms reported decreased depressive symptoms, such as negative thinking, and their sleep quality greatly improved.

So if you (or someone you know), find yourself in a similar situation, locate a CBT program near you (the Cleveland Clinic offers CBT programs at its Neurological Institute). Contact the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies to find a CBT therapist near you.

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