Therapies for Mental Disorder Term Paper

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Therapies for Mental Disorder

Mental disorders represent a wide range of clinical conditions ranging from simple attention deficit, mood irregularities, stress and anxiety conditions to more complex psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, autism, delirium, dementia etc. that considerably affect the cognitive ability. While some of these problems are organic in nature, indicating an underlying structural deformity of the brain or other biological basis, others are categorized as functional disorders that are not attributed to any physiological anomalies. Though there is no clear agreement on classification of the different mental disorders, depending on the severity of the conditions these disorders are basically classified as either neurotic or the Psychotic (severe) disorders. The treatment methods for these conditions are also varied including psychological therapies (cognitive therapy, behavioral modification therapy), insight therapy, biomedical treatment and even psychosurgical interventions. Let us have a brief overview of some of these different treatment approaches.

Types of Psychotherapies

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is commonly used for treating depression, social phobia and anxiety disorders. It is based on the principle that our moods are conditioned by the way we think. Negative and self-destructive thinking patterns are identified to be the reason for depression. The main focus is on understanding and evaluating the reasoning that the patient offers in support of his way of thinking. Once this is ascertained the therapist looks into other 'situational factors' and proposes 'alternative solutions' to a particular problem, thus helping the patient realize that the self-criticism are unjustified. In short the Cognitive therapist aims to expose the cognitive distortions in a patient and helps him entertain a more logical and constructive thinking pattern. (Zimbardo, Weber & Johnson, 521)

Behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy is based on the principle that thinking patterns can be conditioned by changing our actions. Behavioral therapy has proved to be successful in treating specific phobias, anxiety disorders, sexual dysfunctions, substance abuse and addiction problems. The main focus of the therapy is to disrupt the association between destructive or negative habits and the circumstances. The technique of 'Systematic desensitization' is widely used in behavioral therapy for treating patients with phobias and anxiety disorders. The essence of this technique is to act out a fearful situation by imagination with simultaneous use of a relaxation technique to calm down. By this way the anxiety provoking effect of the feared situation is broken down gradually and the patient is cured of his phobia or anxiety. (Raymond Lloyd Richmond)


Frequently behavioral therapy is used in conjunction with cognitive therapy. The 'REBT' (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) is such a practice. The principle of this therapy is that emotional problems can be effectively corrected by addressing the underlying 'irrational beliefs'. 'Irrational beliefs' refer to the patient's perceived feelings of success, 'overgeneralization', 'constant need for approval' and the 'self rating' based on these faulty, unrealistic and dogmatic demands. By showing and disputing the rationality of these unquestioned beliefs the behavioral therapist helps the patient understand that emotional response to an…

Sources Used in Document:


1) Philip G. Zimbardo, Ann L. Weber & Robert L. Johnson, " Psychology: Core Concepts," Fourth Edition

2) Treatment Advocacy Center, "Do Antipsychotic Drugs Change Brain Structure?," Accessed on 21st November 2004,

3) Raymond Lloyd Richmond, PhD, " Systematic Desensitization,"

Accessed on 21st November 2004,

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