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Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy the Answer?

Are you or someone you know experiencing emotional distress? Have you considered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)? Cognitive behavioral therapy is identified on the Mayo Clinic website as an “often preferred type of psychotherapy” for sleep disorders, sexual disorders, depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The therapy is promoted because it can assist individuals in identifying and coping with emotional issues quickly. In addition, the therapy typically is shorter, more structured, and can be combined with other treatment.1

Do you think cognitive behavior therapy is a good option or do you need more information? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, CBT explores relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The therapist and the patient work together to change patterns of thinking and improve coping. Negative beliefs are looked at as hypotheses instead of facts and are tested by “running experiments." A patient can expect homework while working with the therapist. NAMI identifies CBT as a scientifically studied treatment option that changes brain activity of people with mental illness: including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, sleep disorder, and psychotic disorders. For some patients, CBT is promoted to be as beneficial as antidepressants and can be recommended in addition to medication for better outcomes.2

Sound like a great treatment option for individuals experiencing emotional issues? Are there any disadvantages? Addictions.com identified the three following disadvantages of behavioral cognitive therapy:

  • Requires full and active participation from the patient
  • May be difficult to motivate some patients to commit to the treatment
  • Does not look much into issues from a person’s past3

So, CBT is a good option for many, but not for all. For individuals who are experiencing sleep disorders, sexual disorders, depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), mood disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, and psychotic disorders, CBT is often a viable option that could be as beneficial as antidepressants. This option suits patients with emotional issues who are able to commit and participate. Homework is required. The structure and timeframe of CBT serve as incentives for this type of treatment.

As each individual has unique needs CBT may not be the right approach for everyone. Individuals who experience mental health challenges may want to speak with their primary care health provider about their needs and challenges, discuss resources and supports, and therapy options (when applicable). If you are concerned about a friend or family member, your primary care provider may also have supports or strategies to help you as well.

CBT is not a good option for patients who are not motivated or unable to participate in the treatment process. CBT is not designed to assist patients who have unresolved issues from their past that are barriers to their current emotional stability.

For information on earning your M.A. in Special Education degree, contact an enrollment counselor at 877-308-9954.

About the Author

Maureen Delaney Parkes is a faculty member at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She is also a Program Lead at Mounds View School Career and Life Transition Program. She is responsible for due process and student intakes for two special education programs. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at the College of St. Catherine and her Master of Education in Special Education at Bethel University. She is currently completing her Ed.D. at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Parkes has served as a classroom teacher for 12 years. She currently works with high school students who experience Emotional/Behavioral Disorder in a federal setting IV.

References:

1 Mayo Clinic Website, “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” Accessed October 25, 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/basics/why-its-done/prc-20013594

2 NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness, Treatments and Services. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)? Accessed October 26, 2015. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment/Psychotherapy

3 Addictions.Com, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Accessed October 26, 2015. http://www.addictions.com/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/#link5