Mental health problems impact lives of a staggering 53 percent of the population in America. The issue gets compounded further when a closer look at patients unearths complexities. More than one tenth of the patients with mental health issues suffer from more than one disorder. This makes treatment regimen more complicated and requires holistic attention to restore the mental health of patients. The range of problems that need to be tackled among patients include physical health and emotional issues that are often overlooked by society when handling individuals with behavioral disorders. A consequence of the problem is the impact on the quality of lives of patients with various mental health conditions, some of which deteriorate due to lack of treatment or improper treatment. Among the more popular methods that have been proven to have impressive results, cognitive behavioral therapy is regarded as effective, offering holistic treatment to help patients lead a life that is as close as possible to normal.
How does cognitive behavioral therapy assist patients diagnosed with mental disorders?
Considered as one of the most modern and effective approaches, cognitive behavioral therapy differs from other methods that have been in use for treating mental disorders. For instance p psychoanalysis is one such approach that continues to be used for specific conditions. Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT works through an integrated approach that combines a dual pronged approach to therapy. Behavior and cognitive psychology are important markers and approaches that help specialists in dealing with the conditions faced by patients with mental health issues. CBT works on patients through the two dimensions that help to lift patients out of mental health conditions. Most of the other techniques attempt to delve into the causative factors for the condition. While some are successful, not all options that are on the basis of reasons succeed. This is because, more often than not, it would be highly impossible to accurately determine the actual reason behind the condition. With possible limited coherence or and impaired abilities of erudition, it may not be possible to get to the bottom of the condition.
Cognitive behavioral therapy adopts a unique approach comprising the two dimensions to establish a link between the outcomes of the condition. This helps the therapist to look at options to tackle the problems and condition the patient to handle himself/herself in a way that is more appropriate. This is unlike the diagnosis of the underlying factors that have caused the condition. It is a more direct and effective approach in identifying the discernible changes in behavior and possibilities of behavioral change. On the basis of the deeper understanding, the therapist is better poised to help the patient make suitable changes in the manner he/she responds or reacts to a situation. A direct approach in understanding the behavior helps in treating it effectively. CBT has a high success rate in identifying the problem through this method, and gradually helping patients to improve and lead lives that are as normal as possible. Unlike other intervention techniques, CBT is focused on help patients to help themselves. This is different from helping the patients.
The whole idea of cognitive behavioral therapy is to equip patients to deal with the condition and the resultant outcomes in a more effective manner. The attempt is to help patients acquire skills, and a realization of the need to respond differently from existing behavior. Individuals with mental health issues are more likely to suffer from a skewed thought process that impacts the way information, inputs and stimuli are processed. CBT helps individuals with a new set of skills and a more aligned understanding of all events around the individual. This empowers the patients to handle conditions by themselves. CBT is more about making the individual self-reliant and dependent on own skills to handle most, if not all requirements.
Can cognitive behavioral therapy be used to managing various kinds of disorders
As mentioned above there are various conditions and types of disorders that can possibly afflict an individual. Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered as suitable for treating conditions that have not deteriorated. Certain conditions that are very severe in nature require a different approach that is more intense and assisted. CBT is different in that, it is more of a therapy that equips the patients. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often the first treatment of choice to manage conditions among children. This is because different behavior in children are easily identified during formative years and it is suitable to treat the condition as early as possible.
Frontline treatment methodology in some categories of disorders
In addition to being used for managing the conditions that are commonly seen in children, cognitive behavioral therapy is also a frontline option for treating individuals with mental health issues that are regarded as borderline. Various disorders commonly seen in individuals such as eating disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorder are typically treated through CBT. Tics is another condition that is also generally attempted to be managed through CBT. A whole body of evidence points to the fact that there is no evidence of research that supports the effects of CBT in treating disorders that are typically classified as major episodes. However, there is proof that the therapy delivers impressive results when it is used a part of a treatment regimen that includes medication and other techniques.
Used either as standalone or combination treatment
Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used as a standalone therapy for handling mild cases of mental disorder, especially among children. It is used as part of holistic treatment to tackle more severe conditions. These integrated treatment options include medication, and other forms of intervention that could also include psychoanalysis to determine the reasons for the behavioral change. The most frequently used combinations of therapy include interpersonal psychotherapy. Training schools in the US that specialize in imparting knowledge to psychiatrists mandatorily include therapeutic interventions as one of the important dimensions of training.
Various cognitive behavioral therapy stages
The therapy involves various stages that gradually help the patient to understand challenges and use newly acquired skills and behavioral techniques to lead near normal lives. Cognitive behavioral therapy involves various stages such as – an assessment phase, reconceptualization, acquisition of new skills to adapt to the condition, a maintenance phase and assessment on the conclusion of therapy. These stages of CBT help identify the typical behavior of the individual that needs change, assists individuals in grasping new concepts that need to become the default conduct/behavior, and the acquisition of new skills which will help individuals to handle all situations in life. The maintenance phase and the evaluation after the therapy helps to make improvements in the individual and the concepts, to modify and make minor changes in behavioral responses, as and when required.
Different protocols in CBT
The therapy involves various protocols – for instance, counseling sessions, and training to help individuals self-instruct themselves. Counseling sessions are either one-on-one or group sessions and this is designed to help individuals in interpersonal interactions, apart from overcoming inhibitions or withdrawal symptoms. The sessions involve the sharing of information and training in techniques that assist the individual with inputs for helping oneself. The whole idea of these sessions is to equip individuals to handle themselves better with increased awareness and new skills. The focus of cognitive behavioral therapy is to assess the maladaptive behavior of patients, and help them to make suitable changes to deal with the condition better.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and various mental health disorders
The types of mental health issues faced by individuals are many, and the problems are clubbed in broad classifications. Depending on the types of issues faced, various techniques and methods including cognitive behavioral therapy are used for treating individuals.
These disorders run the risk of not being identified at the early stages. In most cases this condition begins at a young age, and this condition worsens over a period of time. This can also affect individuals at a later stage in life. Individuals with this condition are known to harbor fear about gaining weight, despite not being overweight. Called anorexia nervosa, patients with this disorder constantly try to lose weight, and end up being extremely thin. This condition can be effectively managed with cognitive behavioral therapy as the method helps in making individuals process information differently and overcome the incorrect apprehensions that cause irrational behavior.
Drug addicition & substance abuse
This is easily one of the most easy to discern conditions among various mental health issues. Drug addiction and different forms of substance abuse are extreme mental health disorders. Individuals who rely on chemical intoxicants in the absence of drugs are at the highest risk levels, exposed to the most health complex health conditions. Treatment for this condition is holistic and involves a combination of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling and possible extended stays at de-addiction centers. The treatment for this condition involves sustained efforts and continuous monitoring to get individuals out of the habit.
Mental health conditions in a certain category of patients are attributed to traumatic incidents. These life changing incidents belong to the category of anxiety disorder. Hard to forget memories of events that have been witnessed first-hand, extreme violence or sexual assault are some of the reasons behind the condition. Residents of locations that have been hit hard by natural calamities or ravaged by war are likely to be affected by trauma related disorders. Children are likely to be easily affected by this condition more than adults, and there is a possibility that this condition could manifest into other mental disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients overcome anxiety and memories of traumatic events. The manner in which information is processed by individual is gradually changed through CBT, helping patients with post-traumatic stress disorder to overcome maladaptive behavior.
While all mental disorders cause individuals to behave differently, psychotic individuals belong to a category of mental disorders where harm to self or others may be inflicted. It is important to add that not all patients with the condition are likely to inflict harm – only a small percentage of patients with psychotic disorders are likely to be violent in nature. This condition also has stigma associated with it, as individuals exhibit characteristics that are easily discernible. One of the most commonly known condition in this category is schizophrenia. Suicidal tendencies among schizophrenic patients is relatively high and this is a cause for concern. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one among the many techniques, interventions and methods that are used as a combination to treat the condition. This category of disorders requires intensive treatment regimen that includes medication.
Cognitive behavioral therapy – measurable changes on patients with mental health issues
The impact of cognitive behavioral therapy is measurable with psychotherapy supporting individuals through counseling, equipping patients to deal with situations effectively. In a very large number of cases of patients with mental health issues, the reason for maladaptive behavior or irrational behavior is attributed to unwarranted apprehensions or fears. This causes individuals to behave differently, which is effectively an internal mechanism/response to protect the individual or respond accordingly. CBT helps individuals to process the inputs differently, thereby overcoming the apprehensions and behaving in a manner that is accepted as normal.
One of the biggest benefits of CBT is that individuals or on a self-learning curve, which actually helps individuals to constantly improve without the need for any external assistance. This occurs beyond a point in the self-learning curve, and indicates the success of therapy.