Shift.ms, the U.K. social network dedicated to people with multiple sclerosis (MS), is testing a new tool designed to help people cope with the uncertainties and complex emotions that follow their diagnosis. The tool, called Thought Sort, is the first online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) specially designed for MS patients.
CBT aims to help people to better manage the stresses of their disease by trying to change how they think and behave. The therapy is grounded on the idea that thoughts, emotions, physical experiences, and actions are all connected, and that negativity drags patients into a vicious cycle — and that people might best cope with MS symptoms by learning to accept them and deal with them. In sort, as Shift.ms puts it, by being “kind to their mind.”
The project is led by Rona Moss-Morris, a professor of Psychology as Applied to Medicine at King’s College London, and the tool will help users learn to reframe ‘unhelpful thoughts,’ do small activities that boost their mood, and have the chance to talk about with other MS patients struggling with similar problems in a type of online support community.
It is currently recruiting adults, 18 or older, diagnosed with MS within the past 10 years and who are currently not using any CBT online tools.
According to project leaders, the development of Thought Sort was influenced by the U.K. Multiple Sclerosis Society’s “Supportive adjustment for Multiple Sclerosis (saMS) Manual,” which was designed to help people adjust to the challenges and restraints of living with MS through CBT techniques.
“The saMS manual has proven to be an effective way of offering invaluable support for people adjusting to MS in the first ten years following diagnosis. The resource helps people adapt to living with MS, manage stress and social relationships and guides people to set goals, problem solve and prepare for the future,” Imogen Scott Plummer, the MS Society’s head of Care and Services Research, said in a press release. “We’re delighted Shift.ms has built on this work, with Rona Moss-Morris and her team, to offer an alternative way of accessing this support.”
More information on Thought Sort and the research project, including enrollment information, is available through this link. Shift.ms asks that people interested in participating sign up before April 2016.