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Cognitive-behavioral Therapy: Its Meaning, Purpose and Benefits

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a school of thought that helps patients focus on their points of view on the world. Though they cannot control or change every aspect of their life, they have the ability to take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment. According to Hoffman (2014), “people often experience thoughts or feelings that reinforce or compound faulty beliefs. Such beliefs can result in problematic behaviors that can affect numerous life areas, including family, romantic relationships, work, and academics”. To put this into context with a person who suffers from low self-esteem shows to have negative thoughts regarding their own appearance and/or abilities. Because of these thoughts the individual may begin to avoid social situations or even turn down opportunities to advance in school or work. A cognitive-behavioral therapist would help the client to identify their problems as a way to face the destructive thoughts and behaviors. This is the functional analysis stage, and it is important for the patient to learn how certain situations and thoughts can contribute to a maladaptive behavior process. The second stage is to focus on the behaviors that are contributing to the problem. The client will start to learn new skills to practice so that they can apply them late to use in the real world. This can look like learning new coping skills and rehearsing them so that when in a certain situation the client can use their new found skills to address what they struggle with.

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There are a few studies that are mentioned within this paper that outline the benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Each study focuses on a group of individuals that greatly benefit from therapy, as well as highlighting the differences between clinicians that are cognitive-behavioral therapists and those who only use cognitive-behavioral techniques. Waller’s study focuses on cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques on eating disorders. Waller took a study of 80 clinicians (69 women, 11 men) and had them describe what their cognitive-behavioral techniques were and how often they used them within their session. Each clinician is then asked to fill out a questionnaire that talked about their methods. The study found that the clinicians who claimed to use cognitive-behavioral therapy but did not follow the protocol did not have as great of success in helping their clients. But those who followed protocol found great outcomes for their patients with eating disorders. According to Waller (2012), “cognitive-behavioral therapy has good outcomes for bulimia nervosa and for atypical cases, and some impact on anorexia nervosa”. Those who followed the guidelines for CBT had a greater outcome in success in the patient’s outcome than those who simply took certain techniques from CBT and did not follow their guidelines.

Trockel’s study focused on the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia on suicidal ideation in veterans. According to Trockel (2015), “veterans account for an estimated 20% of suicide deaths in the United States, suggesting compelling need for effective strategies to reduce suicide mortality incidence in this population”. He also found that there was a link that has demonstrated the link between insomnia and suicidal ideation. Trockel (2012) also states that “…sleep disturbance is a stronger predictor of suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior among active military personnel than two well-stablished risk factors – depression and hopelessness”.

With this study that Trockel has done he found that best treatment that veterans may receive will be from a CBT intervention, which has shown having a reduced risk among individuals with insomnia compared to the use of other methods. According to Trockel (2012), CBT may be a particularly promising intervention to reduce risk among individuals with insomnia. CBT is also free as drug-drug interactions and suicide death by overdose of prescribed sedative/hypnotic medication(s). CBT may become the first intervention strategy to use for veterans because of its promising statistical data. How the study was conducted was through 4 months of weekly workshops, implementations challenges, video demonstrations, group discussions, and 90-minute telephone consultation sessions. The veterans who took part in this study filled out a questionnaire before the 4 month cognitive-behavioral sessions, and then received another questionnaire after the 4 months.

Hoffman’s study focuses on the effect of cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders on quality of life. His study consisted of a meta-analysis on 44 studies that included 59 CBT trials, totaling 3,326 participants receiving CBT for anxiety disorders. In Hoffman’s (2014) conclusions he states that, “CBT for anxiety disorders is moderately effective for improving quality of life, especially in physical and psychological domains”. Hoffman (2014) also states that “the study found solid evidence for the beneficial effect of CBT on quality of life. The pre-post overall and controlled effect sizes of CBT on quality of life were moderately strong”. He also did a meta-analysis on whether internet-delivered treatment would be more effective than face-to-face treatment. The study had shown that in person treatment had a better response than internet-delivered treatment.

Ehde did a study on the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy on chronic pain. He examined the techniques that would could be used for chronic pain and found that the most used techniques are relaxation training, setting and working toward behavioral goals, behavioral activation, guidance in activity pacing, problem-solving training, and cognitive restructuring. According to Ehde, “An estimated 100 million U.S. adults suffer from chronic pain, a condition influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors and optimally managed by treatments that address not only its biological causes but also its psychological and social influences and consequences. Over the past 60 years, parallel advances in the scientific understanding of pain and the development of cognitive and behavioral therapies have led to the widespread application of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to chronic pain problems. Indeed, CBT is now a mainstream treatment, alone or in conjunction with medical or interdisciplinary rehabilitation treatments, for individuals with chronic pain problems of all types”. His research concludes that with the therapeutic techniques found with CBT patients were able to control a portion of the pain that they were feeling by using relaxation as well as other techniques.

The last study evaluated in this paper is a study done by Jeffery Wood who did a case study on the impact of cognitive behavioral therapy on observed autism symptom severity during school recess. This study followed 13 children (7-11 year olds) through 32 sessions of CBT for 16 weeks. Blind trained observers followed their interactions with their peers. According to Wood (2014), “This study compared cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and treatment-as-usual in terms of effects on observed social communication-related autism symptom severity during unstructured play time at school for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)”. The observers documented that the children who went through cognitive behavioral had more frequent interactions with their peers, as well as more positive interactions. In fact, Wood (2014) states that “On average, children in CBT were engaged in positive or appropriate social interaction with peers in 68.6 % of observed intervals at posttreatment, compared to 25 % of intervals for children in treatment-as-usual”. Showing a significant difference between the children who are treated under the cognitive behavioral protocol over the children who do not.

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Through these various articles it has been proven the cognitive behavioral therapy is found to be a useful school of thought in regards to treating a large amount of both physical illness, but as well as mental illnesses. As well as showing that in person treatments get a better result than treatments that are done over the internet through various different internet programs.

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