Psychological distress and quality of life are improved in autoimmune patients through tandem-psychotherapy, combining individual hypnosis and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatment for trauma, followed by supportive-expressive group therapy
Autoimmune diseases are associated with psychological distress, resulting in greatly impaired quality of life. Tandem-Psychotherapy comprises trauma-focused psychotherapy with hypnosis and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), followed by supportive-expressive group therapy. The objective was to evaluate whether Tandem-Psychotherapy could reduce psychological distress and improve quality of life.
In a case-control study, 45 patients were divided into two groups: 24 patients in the therapy group (TG) and 21 in the control group (CG). The autoimmune diagnoses were undifferentiated connective tissue disease (9 patients in TG and 12 in CG), Behçet’s syndrome (4/TG, 5/CG), mixed connective tissue disease (3/TG, 1/CG), and other diagnoses (8/TG and 3/CG). At start of treatment point, the patients were evaluated with SCL-90-R for distress and psychological symptoms, Life Stressor Checklist-Revised for relevant trauma, and SF-36 for quality of life. SF36 and SCL-90 were repeated at the end of treatment and at 6-month follow-up.
Relevant trauma was found in 24/24 TG patients and in 17/21 CG. Eighteen out of twenty-four TG patients exhibited psychiatric comorbidity with 18/21 in the CG. At start of treatment, all patients exhibited high level of distress (GSI > 0.5) and high Depression and Anxiety scores in SCL-90-R. At end of therapy, the TG exhibited greatly improved GSI (p < 0.001), Depression (p < 0.001), and Anxiety (p < 0.001) compared with the GC; SF-36 scores were also much better in the TG, with significant differences ranging from p = 0.002 to p = 0.0004 at end of therapy. These results persisted at the 6-month follow-up.
Tandem-Psychotherapy is effective for improving psychological symptoms and quality of life in autoimmune patients with high levels of distress and relevant psychiatric comorbidity.