Experiences of young people who have undergone the Lightning Process to treat chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis--a qualitative study

Br J Health Psychol. 2013 Sep;18(3):508-25. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8287.2012.02093.x. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


Objectives: Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a serious condition characterized by debilitating but unexplained fatigue. Treatment alternatives are few, and especially so for young people. The aetiology of CFS/ME is still unclear and controversial, but rehabilitative interventions seem so far most promising. The Lightning Process is a 3-day training programme that has recently become available, but no outcome studies have yet been published. It is a non-medical training programme that combines concepts from Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Life Coaching and Osteopathy. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of young people with CFS/ME after they had undergone the Lightning Process.

Design: Qualitative research study.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with an opportunistic sample recruited through open advertisements of nine young people, aged 14-26, who had undergone the treatment, and three of their parents. Inductive thematic analysis was used to evaluate the content of the interviews.

Results: Mostly positive experiences were reported of the Lightning Process. Two reported dissatisfaction and no improvement, while seven were satisfied and were much improved. Particular helpful aspects were the theoretical rationale, practical exercises, and the technique they learned. Less helpful aspects were the intensity and short duration of the treatment with little follow-up, the secrecy surrounding it, and feelings of being blamed if the treatment did not work.

Conclusions: As this is the first report of young people's experiences with the Lightning Process, it will be important to consider the helpful and unhelpful treatment components for future refinement of interventions for CFS/ME.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Encephalomyelitis / therapy*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Program Evaluation
  • Qualitative Research
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome