Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy are types of treatment that are based firmly on research findings. These approaches aid people in achieving specific changes or goals.
Changes or goals might involve:
A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like lessening back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.
Behavior Therapists and Cognitive Behavior Therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past.
They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life, not on personality traits.
Behavior Therapists and Cognitive Behavior Therapists treat individuals, parents, children, couples, and families.
Replacing ways of living that do not work well with ways of living that work, and giving people more control over their lives, are common goals of behavior and cognitive behavior therapy.
HOW TO GET HELP:
If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet.
You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner.
It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist.
It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees.
They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association.
Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state.
You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations.
You may, of course, visit our website (www.abct.org) and click on "Find a CBT Therapist"
The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition.
These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.
Combat-related experiences are among the most horrifying and threatening
of all traumatic events. Unfortunately, family, friends, and even professional
helpers often are unable to fully understand the impact these
experiences have on a person’s ability to function in the civilian world.
Evidence shows that military traumas often cause severe and, sometimes,
long-lasting psychological problems in many survivors.
What Is Combat-Related Trauma?
Traumas in the military can occur in a variety of circumstances, at home and
abroad. Severe injury, and sometimes loss of life, can occur during training
as well as combat. As might be expected, the longest lasting effects seem to
emerge from wartime experiences. Veterans of every war have seen death
and destruction during combat. Often they are required to be on alert, ready
at a moment’s notice, waiting for days or weeks at a time, for a confrontation
to happen. Their lives are directly threatened. Sometimes soldiers witness
the killing of civilians and the death of fellow soldiers, even friends. Soldiers
are ordered to kill the enemy. Even individuals in supporting roles, such as
medics, nurses, persons serving grave duty, transport pilots, and MPs,
among others, are at risk to develop problems. Civilians, too, can be caught
in the crossfire, captured, or become refugees who must flee their homes,
thereby becoming survivors of war stress.
Research shows that a certain proportion of individuals will suffer psychologically
after a war experience. The more loss of life, horror, or physical
injury seen or experienced, the more likely the person is to have problems.
As time goes on, many of these individuals will find that their distress becomes
less severe. For some, however, the disturbance remains strong and
continues to interfere with their functioning and enjoyment of life.
What Are the Problems?
Although a range of problems can result from war experience, the most
common problems survivors exhibit are intrusive memories, nightmares,
sleep difficulties, heightened anxiety and vigilance, excessive startle (for example,
jumping at the sound of a car backfiring), feelings of depression, and
avoidance of things that remind the survivor of the war. Survivors also report
irritability, anger, and feelings of being numb inside. When these problems
are severe, mental health professionals call them posttraumatic stress
Related problems can be as disturbing as the PTSD itself. Guilty feelings
about having survived when others did not is a common experience of war
survivors. Feelings of unhappiness and isolation can become so severe that
suicide is seriously contemplated or attempted. Frequently, combat survivors
use alcohol or other drugs in an attempt to get temporary relief from
their distress. Together these problems can have severely damaging effects
upon the survivor, the survivor’s family and friends, and job functioning. At
the very least, the emotional distance and difficulty communicating can
isolate the combat survivor from essential social contact. At its worst, the
anger and impulsivity can lead to divorce, violence, verbal abuse, difficulties
at work, and legal problems.
As many as 15% of Vietnam War veterans suffer from PTSD 30 or more
years after their combat experience. According to some reports, an even
greater percentage of World War II and Korean War veterans suffer from
PTSD. Repatriated prisoners of war from the Korean conflict appear to
have PTSD well in excess of 50%. Refugees from countries around the
world, especially torture survivors and political prisoners, have shown high
rates of PTSD-related difficulties. Veterans of the Gulf War suffer from
PTSD, and the estimated risk for PTSD from service in the Iraq war is 18%.
Can Therapy Help?
Yes. Professional psychotherapy has been shown to be a significant help in
the healing process for a wide range of symptoms that combat survivors
can have. Although treatments differ for PTSD and combat-related stress,
most clinicians and researchers agree that three steps to recovery are critical:
1. Developing a trusting relationship with a professional;
2. Telling one’s experience of trauma in the context of therapy; and
3. Developing or reviving one’s connection to family, friends, and community.
Most therapists agree that telling one’s story is central to feeling more in
control. Also, the earlier the survivor obtains help, the more likely serious
problems can be averted or prevented. Survivors are caught in a vicious
cycle in which the memories and thoughts surrounding the memories keep
coming back. Because the survivor reacts to these with anxiety and, sometimes,
horror, he or she pulls away from the thoughts and memories,
thereby reinforcing the anxiety and pain by immediately removing the
thoughts and memories. The survivor never really comes to understand or
process the memory, because it is always cut off before the person can
make sense of it. In cognitive behavior therapy, the individual is assisted in
processing the memory in ways that make it tolerable. The memory will
never be a happy one, but it will no longer cause intense physiological distress.
Cognitive behavior therapists try to make the symptoms understandable
to the survivor. In the context of a caring and trusted relationship with the
survivor, the therapist helps the survivor reduce the symptoms by using
techniques like relaxation. Therapists also try to take away the power of the
memories or flashbacks by having the survivor relive and re-experience
them. Sometimes the therapist will explore the survivor’s thoughts about
the traumatic incident and, where appropriate, help the survivor understand
when his or her beliefs about the incident are contrary to reality.
Cognitive behavior therapists often teach additional skills, depending upon
client needs, such as how to grieve, how to manage anger and rage, and
how to socialize again. The ultimate goal is to reintegrate the survivor into
his or her social structure.
In addition, cognitive behavior therapy includes specific skills training in
areas selected to match the client’s needs. Anger management, problem
solving, communication, assertiveness, and learning how to grieve are
especially relevant to the combat survivor. These interventions help provide
the foundation for reclaiming a loving connection to one’s community.
At times, medication is appropriate and helpful to combat survivors,
especially those who suffer from severe depression. Antidepressants have
been shown to be useful adjuncts to psychotherapy for combat-related
PTSD. Anti-anxiety drugs are sometimes used but may carry the potential
for addiction or dependence. Brief hospitalization may be considered in
cases where the client is in danger of hurting himself or others.
Regardless of the particular treatment method, behavior therapists are
attentive to the unique and varied needs of each combat survivor. In practice,
the therapist must be willing to hear the traumatic story unfold as well
as help the client manage the overwhelming emotions that accompany
remembering past trauma. Finally, it is likely that the practitioner who
adopts a multimethod approach will be best able to respond to the numerous
needs of these survivors.
For more information or to find a therapist:
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from which you took this fact sheet