Dr. Eleanor Stein MD FRCP(C)
Updated March 2018
Myalgic Encephalomyeltis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are severe, chronic multisystem disorders which can cause significant impairment and disability.
As a psychiatric specialist, I combine conventional medical, psychiatric, psychotherapeutic and environmental medical approaches in the treatment of ME/CFS, FM and MCS. Detailed information about my approach to managing these conditions is found in the manual “Let Your Light Shine Through”, a manual/workbook to assist patients in identifying and managing symptoms.
It has been my observation over the past 15 years that patients who participate in group psychotherapy with the goals of learning about their conditions and becoming active self managers have a better outcome than those who do not attend. Group psychotherapy has two components. The first is access to accurate information and effective strategies both from the facilitators and from other participants. The other, often more powerful, component arises from the process of group – being able to try new ways of being in a safe place, learning that one is not alone and getting the ongoing support of other participants. ME/CFS, FM and MCS are very isolating conditions and the mutual support that occurs in a group can be invaluable.
For the foreseeable future, I will not offer individual assessment and treatment. Instead, I will expand my group offerings offering more groups and more types of groups.
For those who do not know me, this does not mean that I believe that ME/CFS, FM and MCS are psychological or psychiatric conditions. Rather, my focus on group psychotherapy is because I observe the powerful therapeutic impact of group participation. As well, a focus on groups allows me to work with more people much sooner (ie. shorter wait time) than seeing people individually.
Group Psychotherapy Services provided:
Groups are held on Tuesdays or Thursdays at an accessible location with free street parking in central SW Calgary. Some groups run every other week and some monthly as indicated below. Each session is 2 hours in duration with a break in the middle. All groups are strictly fragrance free.
Benefit from group psychotherapy depends both on regular attendance and commitment to completing the homework or practice between sessions. This means that participants should have a minimal level of health that enables regular attendance and enough time and space in their life to devote energy to new learning and integrating what they learn into daily life. The groups I facilitate are not helpful for people in crisis.
The time commitment to benefit from the groups ranges from a few minutes to an hour or more daily depending on the group. The recommended homework generally involves a combination of reading and trials of behavior change.
The fees for the groups listed below are covered by Alberta Health. On occasion, I run a group collaboratively with other professionals (eg. psychologists or social workers) who bill directly for their services.
- “Psychoeducational Group” – This 10 session psychotherapy group provides validation, information, skills and practice of self management and hope. This group is appropriate for newly referred patients who have a confirmed or probable diagnosis of ME/CFS, FM and MCS. After completing this group, patients may register for other groups relevant to their needs. This group meets every other week. The homework takes up to 30 minutes daily.
- “Psychoeducational Group by Telehealth” – I have successfully delivered this group to participants at a distance through the AHS telehealth network. If there are 10 individuals interested in participating in your area of the province of Alberta, I will offer a group. Ideally the participants will meet together at the same location so that they can benefit from the informal support from other group members. However participants in remote locations are welcome to join other groups.
- “Psychological Coping Group” – This ongoing psychodynamic psychotherapy group assists participants to gain insight and make attitudinal and behavioral changes based on those insights. We dig deeply and often cover non-illness related issues including self esteem, body image, identity and past events. The goal of this group is to create a new, meaningful life despite chronic illness. We use “The Chronic Illness Workbook” by Patricia Fennell as a guide. This group is appropriate for patients who have completed the Psychoeducational Group and seek better psychological coping. Patients commit to 8 sessions at a time and may continue in this group until they feel ready to move on. Individuals interested in this group will meet with Dr. Stein for a screening interview to ensure a good fit. This group meets every other week. The homework takes approximately 2 hours every 2 weeks.
- “Transforming Pain Group” – This 8 session group guides participants to use the brain’s ability to rewire itself to unlearn pain. We utilize the manual “Neuroplastic Transformation” by Drs. Michael Moskowitz and Marla Golden. This group is open to all with persistent pain. Previous participation in the PEG is recommended but is not mandatory. All participants will be screened by phone prior to the group to assess readiness to join the group. The group meets every other week. Rewiring the brain takes at least 1 hour daily practice.
- “Sleeping Soundly Group” – This 8 session group teaches CBTi theory and skills and supports participants in choosing and implementing changes of sleep related behavior and thoughts. This group is open to all with insomnia. Previous participation in the PEG is recommended but is not mandatory. We use the manual “Treatment Plans and Interventions for Insomnia: A Case Formulation Approach” by Rachel Manber and Collen Carney as a guide. Each referred participant will meet with Dr. Stein for a pre-group sleep assessment to identify individual goals. The group meets every other week. The homework takes approximately 10 minutes daily and involves trials of behavioral change.
- “Diet and Lifestyle Group” – This ongoing group assists participants to increase knowledge about a healthy diet and lifestyle, learn how to set and achieve SMART goals and identify and overcome psychological barriers to change. This group is appropriate for patients who have completed the Psychoeducational Group. Participants in this group are active learners and often bring their own new information to the group. This is a monthly, ongoing group. Homework entails awareness of and changes to daily routines.
- “Neuroplasticty in Action Group” – This is a new group offered if there is sufficient interest. The objective is to acquaint participants with some of the commonly used programs using neuroplasticity for therapeutic change. We will watch online videos of 5 “teachers” (Norman Doidge, Rick Hanson, Annie Hopper, Ashok Gupta and Joe Dispenza). We will discuss and practice how to implement the ideas presented. This group is appropriate for patients who have completed the Psychoeducational Group. Participants will benefit most if they are able to commit to 1 hour of practice daily (not necessarily all at once). Participants will be encouraged to practice with others in the group or outside to maintain motivation.
Other possible groups include: Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a group for Caregivers of patients with ME/CFS, FM and MCS or a group to support individuals reversing cognitive decline. If you have ideas for groups that would assist you please forward them to the office.
ETeam Multidisciplinary cognitive and sensory assessment
This comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessment is designed for people who have problems with thinking and remembering and/or stamina as a result of ME/CFS, FM, MCS and/or exposure to chemicals or biological toxins (eg. toxic mold). Only the medical assessment component of the ETeam is covered by Alberta Health Care. The other components are provided on a fee for service basis.
How the office works:
- Any Canadian resident with a valid Canadian health care card may be referred by a physician (MD), nurse practitioner or registered psychologist.
- Patients with a probable diagnosis of ME/CFS, FM and MCS are welcome.
- Patients who are current smokers will not be accepted as group participants due to the chemical sensitivity of group members.
When we receive your referral, Kathy Cormier my office manager will contact your referring physician to confirm we have received the request. She will contact you to confirm your interest in a group (typically the PEG group to start). You will be asked to provide information about your health conditions, your objectives and concerns or questions you have about participating. We may do some additional screening by phone or in person. Once, screened, your name will be placed on the wait list for the next available group. You will be contacted several weeks before the group is to start to confirm your participation. After you complete a group, your referring physician will be sent a letter confirming your attendance.
How to contact the office
I work part time. The office hours vary. Please call the office at 403 287-9941 and listen to the outgoing message to be advised of the next office hours. You may leave a message any time 24/7 and your call will be returned the next business day. Non-urgent messages may be left by email and will be answered on the next working day. Urgent messages such as inability to attend a group session should be left on the phone answering machine rather than email.
As I am no longer offering continuing, individual care I am unable to provide individual advice, prescriptions or assessment reports to your physician or to third parties. Some exceptions apply for former patients to ensure a smooth transition of care.
Privacy of and access to information
This office meets all standards of Alberta’s Health Information Act. With a few legal exceptions, your medical record is confidential and you must provide written consent for us to disclose information to any third party.
Fragrance free environment
Many group participants have serious health reactions to fragrances including: perfume, cologne, lotion, hair spray, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, soap, petrochemicals and tobacco smoke. If you arrive for a session with a fragrance which causes another participant to feel unwell, you will be asked to leave. You can avoid this by purchasing and using unscented products. We recommend Nature Clean® as the safe alternative. This can be purchased at most major retailers (Superstore and Safeway) and at the office. Upon request, we can provide you with a comprehensive list of unscented personal care products.
Email notification of upcoming groups, educational events or important research
From time to time (approximately 2-4 times per year) a 4 page newsletter is sent by email to all those who have requested to be on our mailing list. The emails let you know about groups, lectures, conferences or research about ME/CFS, FM and MCS. You may be on this email list even if you choose not to be a patient of the practice. The email addresses will not be used for any other purpose and will not be shared with any third parties.
To be added to this list, simply call the office and request to be added or indicate your interest on the “Contact Us” form. In between newsletters, important updates are sent on an as needed basis. You may unsubscribe at any time by emailing email@example.com
Non AHC billable services: services for which you must pay directly
Products for sale
We have a small library of books about ME/CFS, FM, MCS, environmental medicine, neuroplasticity, diet and mental health. You are welcome to borrow items for up to 1 month with a refundable deposit of $10.
We also have equipment for testing electromagnetic fields. You can rent the equipment (with detailed instructions) for $15 for one month.
Please feel free to drop by to browse during office hours.
Thank you for your interest in my practice,