Psychotherapy for Lyme Patients

psychotherapy for lyme patients in San Francisco

Darcie Spence, MA, JD

Psychotherapy, Consultation & Coaching in San Francisco       415-820-3250


“Living through” the experience of Lyme disease is incredibly challenging.  It is a complicated illness that impacts multiple systems. Treatment requires patience and perseverance. It is rarely a straight line.  In addition, most patients are misdiagnosed multiple times before finding a physician who understands Lyme and can actually treat them.  The financial expense of the illness and the loss of previous levels of functioning can be overwhelming.  Finally, because the disease is not understood and recognized generally, patients are routinely marginalized and dismissed, which causes an added layer of distress. (For further information on the history of Lyme Disease, diagnosis, and clinical manifestations, please click on the link Lyme Disease Symptoms.)

Psychotherapy can be an important component of treating this illness simply to help manage the emotional and psychological distress evoked by the experience of “living through” Lyme disease. Because of the mind body connection, however, psychotherapy (attending to your emotional health) can actually be critical to overcoming this disease. First, unprocessed traumas and emotional conflicts (emotional toxins) sap you of energy that is needed for healing. Second, certain ingrained, unconscious, psychological coping mechanisms actually undermine your immune system, making it more difficult to fight off this disease. If not addressed, these coping styles can work in opposition to your medical treatment and diminish your chances for success. (For further information on how our psychology influences our biology, please click on the link Why Psychotherapy Matters in the Treatment of Lyme Disease).

Engaging in psychotherapy with a therapist who understands the complexity of this disease is supportive, and saves you from the task of having to educate or legitimate your illness one more time. Psychotherapy can also help Lyme patients:

  1. Process the psychological distress evoked by the experience of Lyme

  2. disease;                                        

  3. Create a relationship where emotional conflicts and traumas can safely be brought to the surface for resolution, thus freeing up energy needed for healing;

  4. Develop increased competence in feeling, processing, and discharging emotions, which is stress reducing and immune enhancing;

  5. Identify and overcome psychological coping mechanisms that are having a negative impact on health;

  6. Establish healthy limits and boundaries with those who do not understand the illness, so more energy can be directed towards healing;

  7. Hold the tension of not giving up while simultaneously surrendering to the process of being ill;

  8. Find their own path through this illness while depending on others for support, guidance and expertise;

  9. Integrate the experience of being ill without becoming over-identified with the illness; and

  10. Come to terms with the loss of previous capacities/identities while also recognizing the gifts bestowed by the experience.

Therapy Services:

Individual Psychotherapy for adults and teens struggling to overcome Lyme disease;

Family Therapy to address the interpersonal issues that are evoked by this illness;

Group Therapy for Lyme patients to increase emotional competencies and provide social support and connection.

Current group offerings: (Please click on the links below for more details.)

        Exploring the Experience of Difficult to Diagnose Illness


            Friday evenings from 5:15 pm - 6:45 pm

        Psychotherapy Group for Lyme Patients in San Francisco

            Friday evenings from 5:15 pm - 6:45 pm