Psoriasis & Psychotherapy: Does It Help?
Psychotherapy is often one of the last resorts of a person with psoriasis. If all the external remedies have failed us, we tend to turn to our inner self, to the inner problems and conflicts.
Let’s see how a psychotherapist can help us – the people with psoriasis.
Psychotherapy is the process of trying to “fix” our mind, and through our mind – to “fix” our body as well.
Psychotherapists often say: “A person with a healthy mind is not the one who does not have psychological problems, but the one who knows how to overcome them.”
The main way how psychotherapists can help us – is to find and to fix our inner conflicts.
So how are our inner problems connected with our psoriasis?
Psychotherapists often call psoriasis the “psychosomatic disease”, so let’s discuss this mysterious term in more detail.
Psychosomatics is a science about the interrelation of the mind and the body.
So what exactly is a psychosomatic disease?
A psychosomatic disease is a disorder, which developed due to an emotional stress.
Famous psychoanalytic Franz Alexander, M.D. (1891-1964) very clearly explained the origin of psychosomatic diseases.
He compared the life of a body with the life of a nation, in which there are two main states: War and Peace.
War is such a state when the body is dealing with a negative situation, and the peace – such state when the body is relaxing.
When “at war” the body is ready for the fight or the flight. The heart is beating faster, the pupils become enlarged, digestion is inhibited etc. This all is accompanied by the excretion of the adrenaline hormone from the suprarenal glands.
When “at peace” the body rests – for example, after a meal, after sexual intercourse, and after sleep – there occur reverse reactions: the heart is beating slower, the pupils become narrow, digestion activity is uninhibited, the skin acquires a bloom etc.
A human has to pay for the acquired differences from animals. Our “little brothers” live in the eternal present, and us, people, we can experience fear and distress both from the past events and from possible future events.
In addition in contrast to animals, extreme situations for a human are not only the life or health threatening situations, but also the situations which may pose a threat upon such socially significant concepts as pride, self-respect etc.
When encountering a threat, a human enters an extreme state. However, the socially expected standard reaction, in this case, is the suppression of our negative emotions, instead of expressing them trough the fight or the flight reaction.
When a human is constantly angered or frightened by yesterday’s events, or the possible tomorrow’s events, then what should have been a short extreme reaction, becomes a prolonged chronic reaction.
This is the base of psychosomatic disorders.
According to this theory, acquired illnesses are not the “misfortunes” occurring to an “innocent” person. They occur because a person “generates” them himself/herself. The person is the active provoking agent of those diseases.
Psychological Consulting may become a helping hand to take us out from this vicious circle.
A psychotherapist is someone who should help us:
- to learn to relax;
- to learn to take responsibility;
- to understand our inner conflicts;
- to stop running in a vicious circle “event-emotion-action” or “event-emotion-withdrawal”.
Personal disorders have a strong bond with psoriasis. The study of 400 people with psoriasis has revealed the following occurrences of mental disorders among the people with psoriasis:
- personality disorders- 46.4 %
- anxiety disorders – 40.1 %
- light cognitive disorders – 20.2 %
- depressive disorders – 10.7 %
- sexual disorders – 1 %
Will psoriasis go away, if we correct these problems? The more successful the psychotherapy, the less psoriasis and other illnesses have a chance to stay.
Despite the genetic predisposition, despite everyday stresses – we can change our reactions to the outside world – and this will help to get rid of psoriasis and many other diseases.
Psychological Consulting Process
Below is the most common scheme of the Psychological Consulting Process, based on 6 interconnected stages:
- Case study: There is established a contact between the psychotherapist and the patient. A psychotherapist at this stage encourages the patient to conduct a deep self-examination and a thorough examination of their inner problems. A psychotherapist will note the feelings of the patient, the statements, and the nonverbal behaviour (gestures, mimics, body language etc.)
- Determination of the Problems: The therapist attempts to describe the problems of the patient. The refinement of the problems is conducted until the patient and the therapist achieves an identical understanding of the problems. The precise determination of the problems makes it possible to understand their reasons, and sometimes it will also indicate the methods of solving them. If there appear difficulties and vagueness with the determination of the problems, then they return to the first stage – the stage of the examination of the inner problems.
- Looking for the Solutions: The possible solutions of the problems are explained and openly discussed. A psychotherapist helps to advance additional alternatives; however, he/she does not try to impose his/her decisions upon the patient.
- Planning: The selected solutions are being evaluated. The therapist helps the patient to see what realistic approaches there exist based on the previous experiences and the present readiness of the patient to change. Composing the plan of the realistic solution of the problems will also show that not all problems can be solved. Some problems require too much time to be solved; others can be solved only partially.
- Implementation of the Plan: The implementation of the plan to solve the problem. The therapist helps the patient to build the plan for resolving the problem. The therapist also helps and to understand that there is a possibility of a failure in the achievement of the objective. In the case of a failure, the plan of resolving the problem should be reassessed, a new plan should be created and then implemented.
- Estimation and Feedback: At this point, the patient together with the therapist evaluates the level of achievement of the objective (degree of the resolution of the problem). It is possible to once again refine the plan of the resolution of the problems. Returning back to the previous stages is necessary with the appearance of new or deeply concealed problems.
Well, the actual therapy process is much more extensive and it does not always fit into this scheme, and some stages are clamped with the others etc. However, this scheme shows the basics of the psychological consulting.
The next and probably the most important question: how to select the right psychotherapist?
How to Choose a Therapist?
Nowadays there are numerous centers for psychological consulting and numerous private psychotherapists. How to choose the right one?
There are some good and bad personality features of a psychotherapist.
Good Features of a Psychotherapist:
- having a great interest in people;
- being very patient when working with a client;
- being very sensitive to the client;
- being emotionally stable and objective;
- maintaining self-confidence in other people;
- respecting the rights of other people;
- having a good insight;
- not having any prejudices or empathies.
Bad Features of a Psychotherapist:
- needing to be the authority;
- being passive;
- being closed;
- using other people for own needs;
- lacking tolerance.
The Bottom Line
Psoriasis is a vicious circle. Stress aggravates psoriasis and psoriasis causes us to stress! To control your psoriasis, you need to mentally accept that you have it, then formulate a plan to remedy it. It will not be fixed overnight, but it can be controlled over the course of 2/3 months through diet, supplement and minor changes to your lifestyle and mental state.
If you are serious about getting your psoriasis under control and would like to cook psoriasis-friendly meals but lacking ideas, check out my Smart Psoriasis Diet 30 Minute Meals recipe book.