4 Best Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques For Thalassemia

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The 2019 Cooley's Anemia Conference for Patients and Families just took place in San Francisco. I was lucky enough to attend and tour the city for a few days.

Now that I’m back, I’d like to share a few of the cognitive behavioral therapeutic techniques that I shared with patients and family members during the conference.

I want you to benefit from this information, too! Join me live on Saturday, July 27, 2019 at 10 AM ET. I will talk through each of these ideas in more detail on my public Facebook page.

For now, I'm going to give you the ideas in writing so you can begin using them immediately in your own life. I'll also share some of my photos from the trip (at the end of the post) so you can see a bit of the conference and San Francisco!

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques for Thalassemia:

  1. Thought stopping: learning to see negative thoughts emerging, telling yourself "stop" as you see the negative thought patterns begin. Stop negative thoughts in your mind, mid-sentence and do not allow yourself to finish those types of statements. Replace the negative statement with a better feeling thought that is not the complete opposite of what you were just thinking (i.e., everything is awesome), but instead a thought that is logical and makes you feel a little better (i.e., this is happening now, but I can get through this minute).

  2. Journaling: as soon as you see yourself beginning to have strong emotions about something. Write out all the details of your thought, including the complete fantasy you may be playing out in your mind. If it's negative, get it down on paper and let it leave your mind. Put the journal away and don't return to any previous page until several weeks go by or you complete an entire journal. When you finally do go back and read old journal entries, you'll see how differently you feel about those negative experiences. Cherish your own evolution. Pat yourself on the back when you see how much you've grown with each passing day. If you still have bad feelings about a certain blog entry, explore your mind more. Ask yourself why you might be experiencing those feelings. What happened? How did it affect you and how could you have participated in creating that situation for yourself. Also, what could you do differently if the situation were to ever occur again?

  3. Look for evidence. For those of you who always fear that something bad is going to happen... look for evidence of how other situations have played out in your life. Did the worst happen? Usually things don't ever go as badly as we fear they will. Have you had more good days than bad? When we constantly anticipate that something bad will happen, we’re dealing with emotions caused by post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychological disorder that causes a person to become triggered (by a sound, a vision, or other sensation) into having negative emotions, thoughts, and physiological responses based on a trauma that happened in the past. People with thalassemia deal with lots of trauma in the form of needle sticks, friends passing away, transfusion reactions, and other scenarios. Even dealing with health insurance can be traumatizing! In other words, we’re frequently getting triggered and that’s why many of us express fear based thinking. It’s true, we with thal do deal with a lot, but focusing on your negative thoughts and affirming bad things will surely come will only give you a life filled with stress, anxiety, and depression, and keep you away from joy, gratitude, and curiosity.

  4. Learning to become present (i.e., not trapped in thoughts). Living fully in the here and now. This is where meditation, mindfulness, and conscious living become daily practice.

I'll give some more details for each of these during our Saturday chat. Please think of any questions you might have ahead of time and submit them on my Ask Jo page (if you don't want to say them live on the chat).

Here are some pictures from the CAF Conference in San Francisco:

From left to right: The very lovely, Jamiee, Cooley’s Anemia Foundation’s very special social worker Kathleen, and me.


A look down the road when the trolley was on its way.

A look down the road when the trolley was on its way.


Here I am with the vibrant little miss Yasmeen. It was cold in San Francisco!

Here I am with the vibrant little miss Yasmeen. It was cold in San Francisco!



I really love looking at the types of flora that grow in different climates.

I really love looking at the types of flora that grow in different climates.


We took a ferry to Sausalito (my favorite part of the trip!).

We took a ferry to Sausalito (my favorite part of the trip!).


Looking down the street in Sausalito.

Looking down the street in Sausalito.

This was, without a doubt, the best thing about San Francisco.

This was, without a doubt, the best thing about San Francisco.


Here’s a look at what it’s like to ride the trolley!

Here’s a look at what it’s like to ride the trolley!

The roads in San Francisco are so incredibly high that cars need to slam the gas in order to go up them. Then when you’re at the top of a hill, you can’t even see the other side of the street. It looks like you might fall off a cliff! Several of the drivers told us stories of people who would grab onto their seat, terrified because they believed they were going to fall over the other side!

I hope to see you on Saturday, July 27, 2019 at 10 AM ET. Don’t forget your questions!

To your good health,

Josephine