Although menopause is a universal stage of all women’s reproductive life, it is much less talked about than the other phases -puberty, fertility and family planning or pregnancy. Menopause is a time of profound transition in women’s life, that starts in early to mid 40s and can last up to 10-15years.
The fluctuations in the female hormonal levels (Oestrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone) generate numerous changes that in 80% of women can trigger physical and psychological symptoms of various magnitudes. Some of the most talked symptoms of menopause are the hot flushes and night sweats as they can be most evident to the woman that navigates this stage of life, but besides these, there is a whole array of physical and psychological changes, some more evident than others.
When it comes to psychological side of the menopausal transition, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression and brain fog to name a few can cause havoc with women’s emotional wellbeing.
These usually are caused and compounded by the sleep disruption that hormonal imbalance produces, and the final result is a state of emotional overwhelm that often is labelled by the doctors as Depression and Anxiety Disorder. When this diagnosis is reached, many women are incorrectly prescribed antidepressants, in spite of the evidence that this medication is rarely helpful to treat the psychological symptoms of menopause.
If you want help for the physical and psychological side of the menopause, various approaches such as HRT and lifestyle modifications can definitely help. However, if you want an additional or alternative option to enable you to regain your emotional wellbeing, a course of CBT can help you address the psychological side of this major life change we – all women – go through sometime half-way through our lives.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines (NICE) and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) recommend GPs and other health professionals to give women going through the menopausal transition, information and advice about CBT. This is because it is well accepted and recognised that this form of evidence based psychological therapy can be used effectively to aid with a range of emotional difficulties, women encounter while navigating this stage of life.
CBT is recognised as an effective treatment for treating mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, sleep problems, low self-esteem and confidence, and it can be used successfully in supporting you learn strategies to cope with the emotional and mental health symptoms caused by the peri-menopause and menopause. The sessions are designed to increase awareness of the links between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and how you can effect change that will improve the way you respond to situations that trigger an emotional response in you.
Based on my clinical knowledge of different theories and evidence based psychological interventions, I have developed a six-stage model, called EMBERS™ , which teaches strategies to address a number of psychological processes that can become imbalanced during the menopausal transition.
The name of the model – EMBERS™ – it’s an acronym for 6 steps that relate to areas that I believe when addressed, women can start regaining their emotional wellbeing and enjoy a more fulfilled life. These areas are:
E – Enable your sleep – understand the role sleep has in our overall physical and mental health and how we can take steps to improve the quality and quantity of sleep in spite of the hormonal imbalance that causes it.
M – Mind your thoughts – learning how to deal with unhelpful thoughts
B – Brave your feelings – develop openness and resilience to all range of feelings we can experience as human beings
E – Embrace your purpose – connecting with what matters most to you, the meaning and values that give you a sense of direction in life
R – Resolve in your actions (behaviours) – learn strategies to increase your motivation and commitment to stay on course with the actions you want to take to make the changes you want
S – Sustain and Support – look at other strategies and means to maintain and embed the new steps you have taken while reaching out to connect with other women to gain support and motivation to stay on course with the changes you have made.
The EMBERS™ Menopause CBT Model is based on a blend of third wave CBT approaches, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Emotion Efficacy Therapy (EET).
The EMBERS™ Menopause CBT Model aims to achieve increase knowledge and teach strategies to manage most common psychological features associated with the menopausal transition, which will lead to:
– Improved emotional regulation
– Enhanced psychological flexibility
– Increased day-to-day functioning
This is a model that I use throughout my 1:1 work with women seeking help for emotional difficulties associated with the peri-menopause/menopause transition and if you are interested to find out more about the model and how it may help you, please arrange a consultation to see me by sending me a message below or join me on my one hour EMBERS™ Menopause CBT Model online MasterClass.
Menopause CBT Clinic
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