In my first article in this series on cognitive therapy, I explained Why Cognitive Therapy Works for People with Schizophrenia and Other Serious Mental Illnesses. In Part 2 of the series, I give some examples of problems cognitive therapy can help with and who can benefit.
Key Points from last week’s post on Why It Works:
Cognitive therapy is a time-limited, results-oriented approach that is most effective when there’s a specific problem or goal to work on.
Cognitive Remediation (CR) uses individualized drills and group bridging sessions to improve functioning in targeted areas of cognition such as attention, memory, and problem solving.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that helps people understand how their thoughts influence their feelings and behavior.
As a mental health professional and family member, I have seen many examples of clients and loved ones who have been helped by CR and CBT. The following real-world examples help to illustrate the benefits of both approaches.
Cognitive Therapy Can Help People Who:
1. Have trouble setting and carrying out long-term goals. Example: A young adult recently diagnosed with schizophrenia who says he has no goals. What looks like apathy might be caused by impaired reasoning and problem-solving skills. CR uses rewards-driven exercises that increase motivation and work directly to rebuild and improve lost or missing skills.
2. Feel hopeless about their ability to change. Example: After losing ten pounds a young woman drops out of her wellness program because “it won’t do any good” and she “always gains it back.” These are known as automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs. CBT can help challenge these false beliefs about herself.
3. Struggle making short-term plans. Example: An older adult who has trouble remembering and getting to her weekly therapy appointments. In CR bridging sessions, she can learn how to use a daily planner, leave reminders to herself, and figure out public transportation routes and schedules.
4. Have a hard time following instructions. Example: A worker can’t remember verbal instructions from his supervisor. Cognitive drills in CR can help improve his listening skills and short-term memory. Compensatory strategies, such as carrying a small notebook to write instructions, can also help.
5. Experience depression or anxiety. Example: A forty year-old man with schizophrenia avoids going out in public and spends much of his day watching TV. Years of struggling with psychotic symptoms can make a person anxious and depressed. CBT is an evidence-based practice that is especially well suited for the treatment of depression and anxiety.
6. Experience difficulty concentrating. Example: A student is ready to drop out of school because she can’t follow what the teachers say in class. CR can improve concentration by strengthening learning and attention skills. It can also teach strategies for more effective note-taking and studying.
7. Take medication but still experience symptoms of psychosis. Example: A teen who has been in psychiatric treatment for the last two months and still hears voices. CBT can help a young person in the early stages of psychosis gain insight about her illness and distinguish what is real from what is not.
If you think you or someone you know might benefit from cognitive therapy, it is important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
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