Saturday, February 04, 2017

A (very) critical "review" of CBT: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

I did an inpatient CBT program for depression (as a patient) and I’d just like to express my opinion about it (because in a lot of ways it sucked … and apparently I’m not well enough to fill out their feedback form, so…). Of course it’s just that, just my personal opinion and just based on personal experiences at one time and at one place. Other people will have different experiences.


The program consisted of relaxation, activity planning, a mindfulness-group, music (and/or art) an “Info-Group” and of course the CBT itself (in a group and individually with a therapist).

In the relaxation group we did Progressive Muscle Relaxation according to Jacobsen (PMR). There you have to tense a specific muscle (like you hand, your upper or lower arm, your foot, etc.) for a few seconds and then relax it according to instructions. Then you should focus on the difference between the tension and the relaxation as well as the difference between (say) the left and the right hand. This relaxation technique is popular in Germany (I don’t know about elsewhere) however it does not work for me. (I tend to tension and relax my hands/fingers a lot anyways, especially when I'm not well, but I don't do it according to PMR guidelines; so therefore during the lessons I had to (try to) stop that.)  That’s not their fault, obviously, however I had to do the relaxation class during the entire time of my stay there, even though it had – if any – the opposing effect on me. Most of the time the instructor read the instructions from a piece of paper, but occasionally they just played a tape. Still, the fact that you had to go there may be helpful for people for whom the PMR works but who don’t have the motivation to do it on their own, when they are not forced to. (I find it hard to find any empirical evidence that it works for depression, though.) 

However, I think they vastly overestimate the amount of people from whom it works, because they did not accept any kind of negative feedback. At the end of each lesson there was a feedback round where you had to say how you are now and most people stated that they felt more relaxed. However, if you stated that you weren’t relaxed you still had to make up something which supposedly was better (which reminds me of research). My room-mate suggested I’d just say I’d me more relaxed to have my peace (which REALLY reminds me of research).

However, the one thing that was helpful about the PMR for me was having the appointment (where I had to go) itself; it structured the day a bit. But over all, I had preferred if I hadn’t had to go there.

I may or may not describe the other parts as well. 
Don’t know yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment