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.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a very common condtion. Blood pressure
is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The systolic pressure
(upper number) represents the pressure when the heart is contracting to push
the blood through the vesels and the diastolic pressure (lower number) is the
pressure when the heart is at rest between contractions. About one in four adult
Americans has hypertension, which is diagnosed when diastolic blood pressure
is consistently at or above 90 mm Hg or systolic pressure is above 140 mm Hg.
Hypertension typically causes no symptoms until complictions, such as a
stroke or heart attack, occur. It is often detected by routine blood pressure checks
at clinics or doctors’ offices. It is more common in older people, in African-
Americans, in overweight individuals, and in people with relatives who have high
blood pressure. High blood pressure can also lead to hypertension; people with
high blood pressure may want to keep this under control so that it doesn’t
progress to hypertension. The approaches to reducing hypertension are also
effective in treating high blood pressure.
It is important to detect and treat hypertension because it is one of the major
“risk factors” for heart disease and stroke. Research during the past 25 years has
shown that people with hypertension will lower their risk of heart disease and
stroke (particularly stroke) and other complications if they reduce their blood
pressure. Many medications have been used successfully to reduce blood pressure
and risk of complications, but some people experience unwanted side effects
from these drugs and newer drugs tend to be more costly. Experts use different
drugs, often several in combination, depending on the type and severity of the
hypertension. There is some disagreement about exactly at what level treatment
should start. Lifestyle modification, including behavioral treatments, have been
recommended as the first step of treatment for some patients and as adjunctive
therapy for many patients who require medications to control their hypertension.
Life-Style Modification for Hypertension
Life-style modification for hypertension helps people with elevated or high
normal blood pressure to reduce weight, increase their physical activity, reduce
the amount of alcohol they consume, decrease the amount of salt (sodium chloride)
in their diets, and/or manage stress. Smoking cessation, although not
directly related to blood pressure control, is also very important for reducing
overall cardiovascular disease risk. Physicians, dietitians, and other health professionals
should be involved in the prescription of some of these treatments. It is
important to note that most of these behavioral changes have no negative side
effects and several positive ones.
Behavior therapists are skilled at teaching techniques that have been used by
many people to help them succeed in making the behavioral changes that are
Losing as little as 10 pounds has been enough to reduce or eliminate the need
for blood pressure medication in some individuals with hypertension. This is a
weight loss goal that many people can achieve. Behavior modification techniques
used to assist weight loss include setting realistic goals, keeping food
diaries, learning to identify and control internal and environmental cues to
overeating, and learning appropriate assertiveness to cope with social situations
Increased Physical Activity
Recent research suggests that increased aerobic exercise may reduce
blood pressure in some individuals with high blood pressure. Simple, moderate
intensity exercise, such as brisk walking for 30 to 60 minutes several days
per week, can be beneficial for many sedentary patients. Increased activity is
also important as an aid to weight control efforts. People with high blood
pressure or other cardiovascular disease risk factors should consult their
physicians before beginning any type of exercise program. Behavioral techniques,
such as activity diaries and goal-setting, can help people to make the
many changes required to integrate a program of regular exercise into their
Reduced Alcohol Intake
Heavy drinkers (people who consume an average of three or more drinks
per day) may have elevated blood pressure or other health problems even if
they have never had a problem with alcohol. Several studies have indicated
that when heavy drinkers reduce their alcohol intake their blood pressure
goes down. Behavior therapists have designed programs for such individuals
to help them identify the situations in which they tend to drink too much and
to successfully reduce their drinking. Individuals who cannot limit their
drinking may need assistance in becoming and remaining abstinent.
Reducing Salt Intake
Some people with high blood pressure, including those who are taking
certain types of medications, can benefit by reducing the amount of salt in
their diets. Specific dietary instructions are usually provided by a professional
dietitian, but behavioral techniques similar to those used in weight reduction
can help individuals successfully adopt and maintain the new diet requirements.
An increasing number of food products are available with reduced
sodium, but specific information should be checked on food packaging.
Eating out, especially at fast-food shops, where salt is a major ingredient, can
make food planning necessary to keep sodium intake to acceptable levels. It is
also important to note that most salt we eat doesn’t come from the salt shaker,
it’s in the packaged and prepared foods at the store and in the foods served
in restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants. Because it can be difficult to
judge how much sodium is in the diet, it may be very helpful to ask the health
care provider to help.
Relaxation and biofeedback techniques have been used for the treatment
of hypertension for about 20 years. Although stress may contribute to the
perpetuation of hypertension in some people, improved stress management
may not be enough to lower blood pressure once it has become chronically
elevated. Hypertension and high normal blood pressure patients who would
like to try to lower their blood pressure with stress management training
should, as with all the behavioral treatments, be prepared to begin, maintain,
or resume drug therapy in conjunction with the behavioral techniques, if the
behavioral treatments alone do not lower the blood pressure to a safe level.
A healthier life-style approach to preventing and treating hypertension
might include a combination of two or more of the approaches described
above. Increasing physical activity, losing weight, and limiting alcohol intake
may also help reduce the risk of certain other diseases, including cardiovascular
problems, diabetes, and cirrhosis.
Several life-style modification approaches have been found to benefit people
with diagnosed hypertension and to help prevent the progression of high
normal blood pressure to hypertension. People who wish to use these treatments
for blood pressure control should work with a health care professional
with training and experience in the behavioral approach(es) being attempted.
They should also remain under the care of a physician, ideally one who is
familiar with how behavioral approaches can best be used with and without
medications. Although the behavioral treatments require greater effort than
taking medications alone, they can contribute to lower blood pressure, an
overall healthier life-style, and reduced risks for heart and lung disease, liver
disease, and diabetes.
For more information or to find a therapist:
Please feel free to photocopy or reproduce this fact sheet, noting that this fact sheet was writen and produced by ABCT. You may also link directly to our site and/or to the
from which you took this fact sheet