Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy – The Current Treatment of Choice

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is currently receiving a significant degree of attention as the treatment of choice for individuals needing assistance with a variety of psychological disorders. It is a structured, pragmatic approach to dealing with problems and is appealing to those seeking therapeutic treatment. People in need of counseling are seeking out clinicians who have specialized training in CBT. Understanding the reason for this current trend in popularity of cognitive-behavioral therapy can be found in the unique characteristics which are pivotal to this modality of treatment. There is a simplicity and yet effectiveness in the model which characterizes the concepts of CBT.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy facilitates a collaborative relationship between the patient and therapist. Together, patient and counselor develop a trusting relationship and mutually discuss the presenting problems to be prioritized and explored in therapy. In CBT, the most pressing issue troubling the patient typically becomes the initial focus of treatment. As a result, the patient tends to feel relieved and encouraged that the primary problem that brought him to therapy is immediately being acknowledged and addressed.

Problems are tackled head-on in a very practical manner. The patient is coached on the ABC’s of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The therapist explains the connection between thoughts and beliefs and their impact on behavior. How the patient thinks about problems determines the way in which the individual responds to various issues. It’s the manner of thinking about life’s issues that steers the patient’s way of behaving.

Let’s assume that you work in an office and for an entire week a co-worker has walked past you without acknowledging your presence. Each day you go back to your cubicle and wonder why this colleague is treating you so unjustly. You build up thoughts about her being condescending and snobbish and begin questioning what you might be doing to annoy her. Anger begins to emerge and your start thinking, “How dare she treat me this way!” Eventually, you settle down and start to rationally consider the problem. You think, “This is stupid, why don’t I go visit her at her office and see what’s going on in her life that might be affecting this situation. You enter her office and begin starting a conversation. In the midst of your discussion, she reveals that her son is suffering from depression and needs to see a counselor. Your colleague is disturbed about the situation and confides in you that she has been on edge with everyone at the office. She asks you if you know of a qualified therapist. You give her some ideas and before you leave, she gets up from her chair and gives you a firm hug. This incident demonstrates how our thinking can be faulty and can be based upon some erroneous assumptions.

CBT is effective because it teaches the patient to modify patterns of thinking which affect behavior. CBT is a straight-forward therapy which is designed to alert the patient to self-defeating ways of thinking. Locating distorted or maladaptive thinking is accomplished through an exploratory process which is dependent upon a solid patient/counselor therapeutic alliance.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the patient’s negative self-talk, and offers practical suggestions on how to untwist one’s thinking to make it more adaptive. The CBT therapist assists the client in thinking more rationally by examining the individual’s spontaneous thoughts, observing ways in which they may distort reality, and ferreting out underlying assumptions or beliefs that affect ways of thinking and behaving.

Spontaneous thoughts are the nonsensical things that we tell ourselves when we are under stress – “I’ll never get a date, who would ever want me!” Cognitive distortions are the lenses out of which we perceive reality – “You always make me feel like a loser” (either or thinking). Underlying assumptions are the “hot buttons” which crystallize as a way of coping and getting our needs met during childhood – “I must avoid conflict at all costs; I hate disapproval and getting my feelings hurt.”

Cognitive-behavioral therapy seeks to refute the nonsensical things we tell ourselves and assists us in developing more rational ways of responding to our maladaptive thought processes. Since homework is an integral part of therapy, patients will be encouraged to complete exercises designed to change negative thinking. One concrete procedure helps the client to identify current troubling events, negative self-talk, and ways of rationally responding to situations sited. The individual logs difficult situations, identifies self-defeating thinking and refutes the negative thought processes with more rationally, adaptive way of responding to events. During each therapy session, the log sheet is reviewed for patient progress.

With CBT, clients are in control of their own progress. They are aware of the process that is necessary for change, and diligently work at modifying faulty thought patterns. Therapeutic progress is easily monitored through self-inventories and patient feedback. Time is always left at the end of sessions to review the benefits or pitfalls of the counseling sessions. Clients are asked to assess the effectiveness of their counselor’s treatment process.

Patients often ask, “How long will this counseling treatment take?” Although each case is unique, six to eight sessions are generally sufficient to teach clients strategies for reshaping their thinking. CBT is a time-limited, user-friendly, practical process for helping individuals to assess their negative thinking and making needed transformation in the way they respond to themselves and others. Individuals with anxiety, addictive patterns and depressive disorders are particularly well suited to benefiting from this from of treatment. The good news is that many behavioral health disorders can be treated successfully through cognitive-behavioral therapy. NACBT or The National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a good resource for locating counselors who are sufficiently trained, certified, and specialize in this treatment approach.

Social Media Is Helping Behavioral Health Clients and Professionals E-Tool

With mental health and substance abuse providers constantly seeking out the latest in treatment information and with their clients becoming much more involved in their own treatment, Social Media is becoming the tool of choice for researching information on specific behavioral health topics.

With the proper Social Media Use Policies in place, behavioral care treatment providers can easily “connect” with client populations by authoring blogs that satisfy their informational curiosities and needs and that are written in a layman language that they can easily understand and identify with. This is only the front end of the benefit.

A successfully authored blog post also encourages it readers to share comments and to subscribe to the blog by RSS feed or even to “follow” the author on Twitter. What a great way to generate interest in those who may be curious about what a particular “expert” blogger has to share with and offer the greater client population. Often this interest results in the formation of client – treatment provider professional relationship.

In addition, Social Media affords e-clients (those who use the Web to aid in their own treatment) and Social Media savvy behavioral care professionals to help spread useful information around any network that might therapeutically benefit from it. This therapeutic online synergy can only be considered a “miracle” of Social Media. It is living proof that Web technology has further evolved to innovate more quick and efficient ways to help the mentally ill and substance abusers in more ways than ever before. Millions of people are benefiting from having enlightening information available at their fingertips at any hour of the day or evening.

Consider some of the positive ways Social Media is helping the behavioral health community forge ahead on its helping mission.

• Advocates and e-clients are now easily able to identify their legislators; review proposed legislation, online; and share their personal and advocated views directly with their elected representatives as well as with the community-at-large. As a result of the growth of Social Media, countless federal and state bills that can undoubtedly affect the lives and careers of behavioral health consumers and their treatment professionals have been suggested, supported or dumped thanks to the comprehensive dialogs conducted over the Web during their initial considerations.
• Behavioral health practitioners and field consultants are regularly sharing their thoughts and best practices on Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, Blogs and on weekly podcasts, just to name a few outlets. What better way to stay on top of advancements and who is responsible for helping them take place?
• At their Websites, behavioral health organizations of all kinds include their recommended links for all sorts of informative articles, conference notifications, job openings and RFPs. They also often share their recommendations and reviews with an increasingly interested audience on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon and Twitter.
No longer does one have to wait for and rummage through a whole litany of monthly and quarterly professional journals and newsletters to get information that is readily available on the Web.

The “word” surrounding Social Media within the professional circles of the behavioral health treatment community has not all been positive, thus far. In fact, in many health care circles including the medical profession, there is some ambivalence about what is being called the “e-movement.” The e-movement accounts for the growing momentum of Social Media, which has made it often the very first place many people go to locate a diagnosis and to find out what treatment options, are available to them. They used to just call a Dr. or a counselor and make an appointment to come in for a consultation. Not so much, anymore.

Professionals have become very used to being considered “experts” are not all comfortable with their patients or clients becoming anything more than the passive consumers they have always considered them to be.

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital physician Alan Greene, MD, is particularly social-media-savvy (he has a Twitter feed, Facebook page and very interactive website) – and he shares his thoughts in the article:

“A couple of generations ago, the house call was the common way physicians would find out about the real lives of people and make an impact right in the middle of their lives, and today it’s social media,” says Dr. Greene.

This is a new and harsh reality for some. The e-movement certainly levels the playing field for everyone – to a very large degree – and results in different types and perhaps much stronger (financially) health care and behavioral care partnerships that can endanger the livelihoods of both the highly competent and the unquestionable subpar individual practitioner, alike. The overall value of Social Media to e-clients and those behavioral care professionals using it as a valuable tool for better health, certainly swamp this argument. Social Media has been a boon to e-clients and practitioners in behavioral health care and there are no signs of its popularity and value waning anytime soon.

Psychosocial Development and Dreams – Prevent Sociopathic Behavior

Through dream analysis we can precisely follow the development of our personality and understand the unconscious mind. Dreams reflect our psychological content and our behavioral health. They are also a source of objective information related to any important matter in our lives, especially concerning the person we love.

Through dream therapy we can help children, adolescents, and adults develop the positive characteristics of their personality, while eliminating the negative ones. Our dreams are produced by the unconscious mind that knows everything about us and our lives, and works like a natural doctor. It sends us protective messages and guidance in all dream images and scenes. We only have to learn the symbolic dream language in order to understand the unconscious logic, and the meaning of dreams.

Now that I simplified the complicated method of dream interpretation discovered by the psychiatrist Carl Jung, everyone can reap the benefits of this knowledge. We can now very easily follow everyone’s psychosocial development through dream translation, by correcting behavioral abnormalities that cause sociopathic behavior.

The anti-social or sociopathic personality disorder is a result of the invasion of the anti-conscience, (the wild side of the human conscience) into the human side of our conscience. This is easily verified in a dream analysis, as we find dream symbols that reflect the permanent influence of the anti-conscience in our behavior.

The sociopathic behavior is characterized by selfishness, cruelty, lack of respect for the others, irresponsibility, and manipulation. Sociopathic people never feel ashamed or guilty, being totally indifferent to justice. They don’t have friends; they are rude, unfair and sneaky. They live clearly dominated by the anti-conscience, (the primitive and violent side of their conscience), which destroyed the human side of their conscience. This is why they have no human sensitivity.

Dream therapy, according to the scientific method of dream interpretation, provides the only guaranteed treatment to prevent or eliminate sociopathic tendencies. Our dreams reflect our psychological development and behavioral health, helping us eliminate all the absurd tendencies that distort our behavior when we are under the influence of the anti-conscience.

Our dreams also give us objective information about the world where we are and our social environment. They protect our mental health from serious deceptions that could cause mental illnesses by showing us how we can develop our intelligence. We learn how to avoid what could lead us to absurdity and despair. We also learn how to distinguish what is worthwhile in our personality and must be developed.

In order to prevent a sociopathic disorder we must respect the importance of dreams and follow the unconscious guidance. Sociopathic behavior generates grave mental illnesses and unbearable life situations. It is responsible for the various social conflicts, crimes and terrorist attempts that characterize our world.

We must prevent it through regular dream analysis. This is how our psychosocial development won’t be damaged by the intervention of violent animal tendencies and their tragic consequences. We will instead, develop our positive capacities, becoming calm, balanced, and sensitive.

Maintaining Mental Stability – Behavioral Health and Happiness

Charles Darwin discovered that we are basically primates. However, scientific discoveries carried on in the end of the twentieth century prove that the truth about the human nature is more complex than what he had believed.

The biologist and behaviorist Konrad Lorenz and other biologists discovered that we are basically programmed to react in a certain way. All wild animals are programmed to have certain specific reactions to various stimuli from their environment that indicate danger, that help them find food, and many other things. This means that many of the reactions that appear in our behavior are not the result of our own decisions, but the result of the existence of behavioral programs that pre-define our reactions, depending on the various stimuli of our environment that put them into action.

Lorenz related the findings of many biologists to his own findings concerning human and animal behavior. His remarkable research should have enlightened humanity. However, the conclusions he made were not appreciated by our hypocritical world leaders. This is why his discoveries didn’t change the global mindset, even though he was honored with the Noble Prize in 1974.

He discovered that there are so many hard-wired responses in human behavior, that we cannot talk about ‘human freedom’. In other words, if we are already programmed to react like animals in so many ways, we don’t have the freedom to make our own decisions and do what we really want to. We don’t control our behavior as we believe we do.

I related Konrad Lorenz’s discoveries to Carl Jung’s discoveries about the meaning of dreams. Then, I continued Jung’s research through dream interpretation, discovering the wild side of our conscience (anti-conscience) that he could not see. The anti-conscience is our primitive conscience that didn’t evolve like our human side. It is a very violent primate, with the difference that it can think.

The existence of such primitive content in the biggest part of our brain means that we are basically cavemen who didn’t evolve enough yet. This is why so many behavioral programs determine our behavior.

The powerful anti-conscience generates mental illnesses and mental disorders within our human conscience until it manages to destroy it. Then, it completely controls our behavior, leading us to terror and despair.

If we want to maintain our mental stability and behave in a way that will help us find happiness in life, we must eliminate the absurd thoughts generated by our anti-conscience. We must also eliminate the negative behavior imposed by its violent nature.

The unconscious mind that produces our dreams works like a doctor because we need constant protection and guidance. We must follow the unconscious psychotherapy in order to transform the anti-conscience into positive content before it manages to destroy our humanity. Only then will we acquire true behavioral health and mental stability. Thus, only then will we find real peace and happiness in life.

Economic Recovery and Healthcare Reform – Opportunities For Mental Health and Addictions

2009 is a critical year. Promised economic recovery and healthcare reform legislation are opportunities for meaningful financial commitments to mental health and addictions services and mental healthcare organizations are offering a practical actionable agenda:

– The integration of primary care services in behavioral health settings: The Healthcare Collaborative Project brings together behavioral health and primary care organizations offering a bi-directional approach for care. The need for behavioral health services in primary care is widely accepted. But the integration of primary care services in behavioral health settings remains controversial despite the fact that individuals with serious mental illness appear to have the worst mortality rates in the public health system. Therefore, mental healthcare organizations are actively pursuing single points of accountability to enhance continuity of care for this underserved population.

– Cost-based-plus financing that supports service excellence: People want and deserve quality services but quality services depend on skilled staff. Low salaries have created – and are perpetuating – a recruitment, retention, and quality crisis for behavioral healthcare. We need a workforce of skilled staff delivering nationally recognized practices within organizations that live by the rule “If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”For mental healthcare organizations, healthcare reform is an opportunity to bring “parity” to public mental health services by ending the second class status of community mental health and addiction providers in America’s safety net.

– Federal mental health funding stream dedicated to mental health and integrated treatment services for the uninsured: The uninsured have exceptionally high rates of untreated mental illnesses with co-occurring addiction disorders and there is no safety net. State plans to cover the uninsured have all but disappeared and federal universal coverage plans may well be incremental. We have large numbers of individuals with treatable mental illnesses and addictions in our overburdened emergency rooms, in jails, and on the streets with no access to services that can engage them, treat them and return them to work. We must stop denying our economy productive taxpayers and wasting human lives.

– Eligibility for social security disability for people with addiction disorders: Addiction has come a long way from the days when it was perceived as merely a failure of will. Today, there is growing public awareness and acceptance of addiction as a chronic, relapsing condition that requires continual monitoring and management, as do other chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, and hypertension and yes, mental illness. If we accept addiction as a chronic illness then we must advocate that people with addiction disorders be eligible for disability support.

– Funds to support investments by behavioral healthcare organizations in information technology: We talk about information technology and service transparency, but behavioral healthcare organizations that move forward to automate their clinical systems get no support, funding, or technical assistance. We and those we serve cannot continue to be marginalized. Healthcare reform and economic recovery will depend upon the expansion of information technologies and behavioral health providers must be included.

– Expansion of research-based education and prevention practices: There are mental health and addiction prevention and education programs that work. These include research-based prevention initiatives that reduce the risk of childhood serious emotional disturbance by treating maternal depression, the Nurse-Family Partnership Program that has an array of consistent positive effects across multiple trials, and Mental Health First Aid – an evidence-based mental health literacy program. Now we must adequately fund and support the spread of these interventions to communities across the country.