Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Growing More Popular
> 3/30/2007 1:46:28 PM

More businesses and insurers, faced by an increasing number of employees in therapy and hesitant to pay for "open-ended" psychotherapy regimens, are now turning to the related cognitive behavioral therapy model, believing it more efficient, affordable and easier to measure quantitatively. Many cognitive plans specifically propose short-trem solutions to the behaviors and responses resulting from, rather than contributing to, various chronic depressions or anxieties. The idea that a patient's status can be significantly improved within a span of 10-25 sessions has understandably proven very popular with those responsible for a share of its fees.

A large part of the distinction between the two types of therapy rests on their primary focus: rather than interpret the subconcious motivations and root causes behind current difficulties, cognitive therapy aims for behavioral modification, with most therapists adopting a more directive, or suggestive, approach to guide their patients toward more satisfying states of physical and emotional health. In this incarnation, cognitive therapy also works well in certain group settings that address a shared problem.

A new Forbes cover story touting cognitive therapy as the revolutionary alternative to anti-depressants and hours on the couch clearly oversimplifies the issue, going so far as to claim that psychotherapy is "the ultimate cottage industry," amounting to a long circuitous journey with little in the way of visible benchmarks leading toward a clearly defined goal. For those active in finance, this equation is understandably not the most attractive. It makes sense that such individuals would attempt to place more direct quantitative measurements on therapy and recovery, and that a neat regimen of 10-25 sessions seems more economically viable (though some CBT patients obviously require more time). The claim that "CBT now has almost twice as many adherents as old-guard psychoanalysis" is, however, far from definitive and should not result in increased difficulties for patients who benefit from regular psychotherapy sessions.

Readers should recognize that the forms of therapy are unique but not mutually exclusive.Cognitive therapy has been proven effective as an essential element of the remedy for such behavioral issues as substance abuse, weight loss, paranoias such as agoraphobia or social anxiety disorder, and any number of additional problematic habits. Multiple studies have revealed it to be just as successful as strictly medicinal treatment in many cases. But one should not view it as a substitute for pharmaceutical or psychodynamic therapy, and the three can also work in combination.

While business owners and managers have very legitimate concerns regarding coverage for long-term treatment plans, cognitive behavioral therapy is not a rebuttal of therapeutic tradition, nor is it a more streamlined solution to every mental health problem. Touting one as a general subsitute for the other is not an honest form of debate. The symptoms and disorders presented by each individual patient require specific, carefully measured approaches that can include several combined approaches, and trial of alternate methods is often required. The increasing consideration of cognitive behavioral therapy is a good sign, but it does not signify an end to the legitimacy of traditional psychotherapy. Whatever combination of methods works best for each patient is the model that should be used. The debate between therapies is less important than the well-being of the patients to whom they apply.

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