CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychotherapy that can be used to help manage bipolar disorder.

Psychotherapy involves either a one-on-one interaction with a therapist, or group sessions that involve the therapist and several people who have similar issues. Though there are many approaches, they all tend to involve helping patients get a handle on their thoughts, perceptions and behavior, and finding healthy ways to deal with their problems.

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Fit In

Usually, the core treatment for bipolar disorder is some combination of medication and psychotherapy.  Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the more common types of psychotherapy that can be used.

The Mayo Clinic identifies a number of areas where CBT can be used. They include:

  • managing the symptoms of mental illnesses and preventing a relapse into those symptoms
  • learning effective coping techniques to help the patient control emotions and stress
  • CBT can be used as an alternative treatment when medications are ineffective or not an option

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How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work

In cognitive-behavioral therapy, the goal is to help patients gain a new outlook on their situation by directly challenging negative thoughts and fears the patient may have and teaching the patient to control or get rid of them.

The therapy is generally short-term and directly focused on eliminating or managing specific problems, and involves contributions from the therapist and the patient.

The Mayo Clinic said people taking part in CBT can generally expect to take these steps:

Determine the problem

This can be mental or physical illness, work or relationship stress, or anything else that is bothering the recipient of the therapy.

Examine the thoughts, behaviors and emotions associated with these problems

Once the problems the patient wants to work on are identified, her or she and the therapist begin looking at how the patient is reacting to those problems.

Spot negative or inaccurate thoughts, behaviors and emotions

There are a number of ways people can perceive or deal with an issue that just makes things worse – including negative thoughts about themselves or an undue focus on the negative aspects of a situation or occurrence.

Work to change the patient's reaction to personal issues

The therapist and the patient work to replace these negative portions of the patient's reaction with more positive and constructive ones, including positive thoughts about the patient's ability to cope, and attempting to view a situation more objectively.

Who Can Take Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This talk therapy can be used in various situations for just about anybody.

Side Effects

There are no direct physical side effects to any psychotherapy, but anyone who decides to use it must be ready to have candid talks about their issues with a therapist or even a whole group of people. Depending upon the patient's experiences, this could be, at least some times, a difficult process.

Availability

Psychotherapy can be found in a number of settings, including hospitals and through private practices and cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the more common techniques. Many employers offer psychotherapy through their employee assistance programs.

Highlights

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a popular treatment that can be applied to a wide range of issues, including the management of bipolar disorder.

The treatment focuses on identifying the patient's problems and reactions to those problems, then determining which of those reactions are unhealthy and replacing them with healthier alternatives.

What The Expert Says

Dr. Soroya Bacchus, a psychiatrist who practices in California, said cognitive-behavioral therapy can be effective as a component in collective treatment of bipolar disorder or as an alternative when medications cannot be used.

"Bipolar medications are most effective when used in conjunction with therapy and healthy lifestyle choices,” she said. “Conversely, CBT is the most effective in patients who do not respond to intervention by medication.

"In fact, CBT was developed in response to the need for treatment options in those which medication was not successful,” Dr. Bacchus continued. “However, this is not mutually exclusive. Patients who do respond well to medication can benefit greatly from undergoing CBT as well.”