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Psychological Treatment

The different branches of psychology entail different forms of treatment. Psychological treatments, also known as psychological therapies, are different types of therapies. A person works with a qualified therapist to understand and find solutions to their thinking, behaviour, and problems to improve their quality of life. What are the different types of treatment?

Different types of therapies can take various forms, some of which include:

  1. Individual sessions

  2. As a couple or with members of the person’s family

  3. In a group of people who have the same difficulties.

Some of these therapies are brief and last only a short time, while others involve working with others over a longer period. The length of time a person is treated depends on the nature of the problem they face and the type of therapy proposed. We will now discuss the different types of treatments and some for specific mental illnesses.

Psychological Treatment, Drawing of a Therapy Session, StudySmarterA person undergoing therapy, www.freepik.com/vectors/therapy, therapy vector created by storyset

Types of psychological treatment

  1. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
    • This form of therapy relies on mindfulness, which is about being present in the moment. It encourages you to accept your negative thoughts and emotions as something temporary that does not necessarily define you. The commitment part of therapy refers to patients committing to taking actions in line with their life goals.
  2. Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)
    • In this form of therapy, patients reflect on their childhood to understand how it may have led to the patient's current problems. The therapist and patient then work together to help the patient better respond to and cope with the problems.
  3. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
    • In cognitive behavioural therapy ( CBT), one works with their therapist to provide evidence for the specific thoughts they have about a situation and counterevidence. One looks at both sides and takes a more balanced view rather than an unhelpful and negative one. CBT aims to change a patient's negative thinking patterns.
  4. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
    • This form of therapy is based on CBT but is specifically designed to help people who experience intense emotions. DBT and CBT aim to change unfavourable thinking and behaviour patterns but differ in that DBT also help patients accept their feelings.
  5. Family therapy
    • Here, family members come together in a therapist's office and express their thoughts and feelings under the therapist's guidance, allowing everyone to express their feelings. It also helps the therapist understand where each individual stands so that they can offer successful solutions to help the person feel comfortable again.
  6. Group therapy
    • Group therapy may be recommended when people suffer from similar problems and thoughts. This form of therapy allows sufferers to express their feelings and listen to others who have had similar experiences. It helps sufferers understand their illness and may provide them with helpful information they may not have encountered before; it promotes understanding, acceptance, and learning.
  7. Mindfulness
    • Mindfulness is a form of therapy that asks a person to focus on the present rather than worrying about what they have experienced and what they might experience in the future. One can work on this under the supervision of a therapist but also work on it alone, in an environment comfortable for them. Two types of mindfulness therapies exist, mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

Psychological Treatment, Group therapy session, StudySmarterPicture of group therapy, www.freepik.com/vectors/counseling, counselling vector created by pch.vector

Psychological treatments for depression

More and more talk therapies are available for the treatment of depression in the form of individual one-to-one sessions or group therapies. E-learning in the form of self-help applications is another option.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for depression

CBT is based on the premise that the way we think and act affects the way we feel; in essence, cognition and behaviour influence our emotions. CBT is one of the most effective methods for treating depression and has been shown to be successful in a number of populations, including children, adolescents, adults, and older adults.

In CBT, one works with a trained professional to understand the thinking patterns that contribute to unhealthy behaviours, increasing the likelihood that one will experience depressive symptoms or even making it more difficult for the person to get better if they do experience them.The focus is on changing one's thoughts and behaviours by encouraging them to think rationally about any situation that makes them feel different. Doing so helps change previously negative feelings into more realistic and positive ones.

Psychological Treatment: Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

IPT focuses on problems in personal relationships and the skills needed to overcome them. It relies on the idea that problems in relationships, whether with family, friends, or romantic partners, significantly impact depressive symptoms and contribute to them.Recognising the patterns in your relationships that make you more vulnerable to these symptoms can help you improve your current relationships, mend past relationships, and also find ways to build new relationships.

Psychological Treatment: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

MBCT is usually conducted in groups and incorporates cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness techniques. Patients learn mindfulness techniques such as meditation that they can practise at home. They also learn to accept any thoughts within them and recognise that thoughts do not determine who they are.MBCT helps stop thoughts wandering into the past or the future. How can MBCT help with depressive symptoms? By encouraging one to notice feelings of sadness and negative thoughts early, one can deal with the warning signs sooner and more effectively.

Psychological treatments for schizophrenia

Depending on the severity of symptoms, different types of treatment may be suggested for people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Most of these suggestions involve a combination of medications and talk therapies, some of which include:

Psychological Treatment: Family therapy

In family therapy, family members are all in the same room, with everyone working together to communicate effectively and reduce daily stressors. Family therapy aims to educate family members about schizophrenia, improve communication between the patient and family members, and teach them more effective coping strategies.By actively participating in therapy, family members learn how to care for their ill relatives and learn techniques to ensure they can maintain their lives at the same time.

Family therapy takes place in three steps:

  1. A therapist will identify strengths, weaknesses, and problematic behaviours through discussion and observation in the preliminary analysis.

  2. Information transfer – the therapist educates the patient and family about the disease, including the causes, the influence of medications, the advantages and disadvantages of medication only, therapy only, or a combination of both. Essentially, this phase involves the therapist passing on all the important information before the therapeutic process begins.

  3. Communication skills training – the family learns to listen, express their emotions, and discuss concerns empathetically. The therapist will offer solutions specific to the family's needs and concerns to help reduce anger and guilt and help anticipate problems.

Psychological Treatment: Token economies

Token economies do not treat schizophrenia but manage it. They rely on operant conditioning, which encourages desirable behaviours through selective reinforcement.

When someone makes an effort to dress (which they would not normally do), they are rewarded with a coloured token that they can exchange for secondary reinforcers such as candy, chocolate, etc.

Doing so helps with coping because it reinforces the desired behaviour and thus maintains it, rather than the opposite.

However, it is crucial to understand that just because desirable behaviour is rewarded, it does not mean undesirable behaviour is punished. This method reduces negative symptoms and helps patients and their caregivers see themselves in a more positive light. Their ability to perform the desired behaviour is noticed and encouraged.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for schizophrenia

In schizophrenia, patients learn to recognise examples of their delusional thinking, which helps them accept help to avoid acting on those thoughts. Again, this does not necessarily make the symptoms disappear, but it is an effective way to manage them.False beliefs and expectations form the basis of problems for people who have schizophrenia. These include general beliefs, self-image, beliefs about what others think, expectations about others' behaviour, and one's coping mechanisms. The assessment follows, in which the patient has to describe their delusions, think about their relationships, and say what they hope to get out of therapy.At this point, it is important to note the importance of forming a therapeutic alliance requires honesty, patience, and acceptance. The therapist must also accept the patient's delusions are real to them, and they must be willing to work with them to develop solutions and coping strategies.

Once this alliance forms, the therapist will provide the patient with ABCs:

  • Antecedent – the specific trigger(s) for the patient's problems
  • Behaviour – how the patient reacts in situations when the trigger has occurred
  • Consequences – how the behaviour affects the relationship with others, whether friendly, romantic, or familial.

Answering these questions leads to the normalisation stage. The therapist helps the patient understand it is normal to have negative thoughts and feelings in certain situations and that there is no reason to feel stress or shame with regard to these.

A logical discussion follows in which the person can identify where their thoughts are going wrong and why they arose in the first place. The therapist will first work on recognising negative thoughts when they arise and then encourage the person to challenge and reframe them. This is done by encouraging the person to find logical reasons for the problems that are troubling them, and then allowing them to develop an alternative to their previous abnormal behaviour through coping strategies.

Psychological Treatment: Coping strategy enhancement (CSE)

As the name implies, this form of treatment teaches individuals to develop effective coping strategies for their particular symptoms and use them. These strategies reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of psychotic symptoms and alleviate the associated distress.

Two components to successfully achieving this exist:

  • Education and rapport training, where the therapist and the sufferer work together to improve the effectiveness of their own coping strategies and identify new strategies that may benefit the sufferer.

  • Symptom targeting – the therapist and the sufferer tackle one symptom at a time, allowing them to develop strategies specific to the symptoms experienced rather than generalised. The strategies are practised in the session, and help is offered if there are difficulties. Once this is accomplished, the individual is sent home with tasks to practise using that specific strategy. They have to record it – what they did and how it worked – so that the therapist can review it in the next session.

Psychological treatments for phobias

The most common psychological treatments offered for phobias are exposure therapy and CBT, which we will discuss below.

Psychological Treatment: Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy begins with the patient making a list of their phobias. The therapist then teaches the patient general relaxation techniques to use when exposed to unimaginable stress, i.e., when they encounter a phobia. The phobias are then addressed starting from the top down with the phobia that causes the most stress.

Suppose a person has a fear of elevators. In that case, they might start by imagining being in an elevator, then looking at pictures of elevators, then going near an elevator, then standing in an elevator, and so on, until they can finally ride in a crowded elevator.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for phobias

People with phobias tend to develop thought patterns around the phobia that are not necessarily based in reality. When confronted with the phobia, they tend to catastrophise, i.e., imagine the worst that can happen, which only reinforces the fear you are experiencing.

CBT helps patients identify their unhelpful thoughts and replace them with more accurate ones. There are several ways to do this:

  • When one encounters a phobia, they should remind themselves it is just a phobia.

  • They should recall that the episode will soon be over

  • It is the thoughts that reinforce the fear.

  • The patient should replace the thoughts with those developed in CBT sessions with the therapist.

Psychological Treatment: Mindfulness training

Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce the stress they feel in a particular situation. A therapist should introduce these techniques first, and then the patient should practice them for maximum relief. This practice can help when the patient is faced with a phobia when they may not be able to contact their therapist immediately.

Psychological Treatment, A Woman meditating, StudySmarterMindfulness techniques can help when face-to-face with a phobia, www.freepik.com/vectors/flat-illustration, flat illustration vector created by freepik

Psychological Treatment - Key takeaways

  • Psychological treatments include various forms of talk therapy where a patient works with a qualified therapist to understand their thinking and behaviour, understand their problems and find solutions to them to improve their quality of life.

  • Therapy can take three different forms: individual, couple/family and group.

  • The most common forms of therapy are: acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), family therapy, group therapy, and mindfulness.

  • CBT, interpersonal therapy (IPT), behavioural therapy, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy treat depression.

  • Treatment for schizophrenia depends on how severe the symptoms are, but the common talk therapies suggested are family therapy, token economics, CBT, and coping strategy enhancement (CSE).

  • Phobias are treated with exposure therapy (the most common), CBT, and mindfulness training.

Frequently Asked Questions about Psychological Treatment

The common psychological treatments used are:

  1. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  2. Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)
  3. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
  4. Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)
  5. Family therapy
  6. Group therapy
  7. Mindfulness

The purpose of psychological treatment is to understand the thinking, behaviour, and problems and come up with solutions, thereby improving your quality of life. 

Psychological treatments are different forms of talking therapies wherein an individual works with a qualified therapist to learn techniques that would help them relieve any distressing symptoms experienced. 

An example of psychological therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims to change negative thought patterns into more helpful ones. 

Final Psychological Treatment Quiz

Question

What is dream analysis? 

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Answer

Dream analysis is a type of intervention that is used to uncover the meaning of dreams to uncover unconscious memories, conflicts and desires. 

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Question

Does dream analysis propose that dreams cause mental illnesses or dysfunctional behaviour? 

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Answer

No 

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Who proposed the theory behind dream analysis? 

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Answer

Freud proposed his theory of dream analysis after observing his clients. 

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What is the name of the following description, what and how the individual remembers their own dream?

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Answer

Manifest content

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What is the name of the following description, the repressed meaning of dreams? 


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Answer

Latent content 

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Question

What is the role of therapists in dream analysis, according to Freud?

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Answer

The dream analysis therapist's role is to take the manifest content that has been described by the client and help guide them to understand the latent content of the dreams. 

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Question

What is the name of the test that Freud proposed? 

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Answer

According to Freud's dream analysis approach, therapists should refrain from telling clients what dreams mean. Instead, he asked clients to say whatever came to their minds when talking about their dreams. This is done by using free association tasks.

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Question

What is the shared principle between dream analysis and the psychodynamic approach to psychology? 

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Dream analysis tries to uncover repressed memories that are in dreams that may be contributing to mental illnesses. The emphasis on repressed memories causing internal conflict is a key principle in the psychoanalytic approach to explaining behaviour. 

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Which of the following are criticisms of Freud's work? 

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Answer

Over-emphasising sexual desires 

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Which psychodynamic figure described that personality affects the content of dreams? 

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Answer

Adler

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Which stage of sleep has been associated with emotional memories? 

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Answer

REM

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Does the self-organization theory disagree with Freud's theory of dream analysis? 

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Partially 

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What are the components of dream analysis?

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The components of dream analysis are: 

  • it takes an individualistic approach 
  • that it focuses on the client's current problems 
  • therapists and clients need to work collaboratively 
  • discuss the manifest content (hidden meaning) of dreams
  • dreamwork and the analysis of dreamwork 
  • free association is the main method used to identify thoughts and feelings

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Question

Why is dream analysis important?


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Dream analysis attempts to get to the root of an individual's problems that may be causing dysfunctional behaviour or mental illnesses.  This intervention attempts to identify what is causing the behaviour and adapt it to solve the 'problem'. Other interventions such as drug therapy do not do this. Instead, they try to solely get rid of the problem. This highlights the importance of dream analysis.

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Question

What are the weaknesses of dream analysis?

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The weaknesses of dream analysis are:

  • it can be time consuming and expensive 
  • it is not an independent intervention that can be used to treat mental illnesses 
  • it has limited application in terms of what it can be used to treat

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What are the strengths of dream analysis? 

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The strengths of dream analysis are:

  • it has been proven to have utility 
    • its principles have been used to create interventions used in CBT 
  • it attempts to deal with the root cause of the problem rather than ignore it 

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Question

What psychodynamic principles guide psychodynamic treatments? 

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The psychodynamic principles that guide psychodynamic treatments in psychology are:

  1. The conscious and unconscious mind 
  2. Tripartite model 
  3. The psychosexual stages of development

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What is the name of the psychodynamic treatments? 

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Psychodynamic treatment examples are:

  1. Psychoanalysis 
  2. Dream analysis

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What are psychodynamic therapy techniques are used in interventions? 

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Psychodynamic therapy techniques commonly used in interventions are:

  1. Talk therapy 
  2. Free association

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Why may psychodynamic treatments not be suitable for everyone? 

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Psychodynamic treatments may not be appropriate because they take longer than alternatives such as cognitive behavioural therapy. Therefore, it is not an appropriate option for people who need fast results. 

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What are the advantages of psychodynamic treatments in psychology? 

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The advantages of psychodynamic therapy are that it tries to uncover the root cause of problems rather than masking them. So it is likely to have long-lasting effects.

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What did Huber, Zimmermann, Henrich, and Kulg (2012) find? 

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Research has shown patients with unipolar depression who received psychoanalytic therapy versus cognitive-behavioural therapy had longer-lasting results (Huber, Zimmermann, Henrich & Klug, 2012).

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How is free association used in psychodynamic treatments? 

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The purpose of free association is to identify hidden meanings or feelings clients may have repressed. During this intervention, patients are encouraged to talk freely without too much guidance from the therapist.

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How may free associations help in sessions with patients with depression? 

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The free association involves a therapist saying random words to identify repressed feelings or causes of depression. For instance, if the associative words describe victimisation, the client may have been abused in the past, which may have caused depression. 

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According to psychotherapy, what is the cause of dysfunctional behaviour? 

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According to psychotherapy, past experiences and unconscious repressed feelings, desires, and conflicts cause dysfunctional behaviour.

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How does psychotherapy treat mental illnesses?

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Making individuals consciously aware of unconscious memories

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What are the stages of talk therapy? 

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The stages of talk therapy are:

  1. Identify patterns of behaviour
  2. Understand the reasons behind the behaviour patterns that may be causing dysfunctional behaviour or symptoms.
  3. Improve interpersonal relationships

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What is the psychodynamic term for a therapist naturally reacting to and responding to clients?

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Answer

Counter-transference

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What is the psychodynamic term for clients unconsciously transferring their feelings (positive or negative) onto their therapists? 

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Transference 

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Which part of the mind did Freud compare to the tip of an iceberg?

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Answer

The conscious part of the mind

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According to the tripartite model, which part of the personality is responsible for maintaining the balance between the other aspects of the personality? 

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Answer

Ego

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Question

What is psychosurgery?

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Psychosurgery involves brain surgery to treat mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression.

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What is the reasoning behind psychosurgery?

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Removing the connections in areas of the brain responsible for symptoms.

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When was the lobotomy developed?

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1936

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Who introduced lobotomy in America?


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Dr Walter Freeman

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When is psychosurgery used today?

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Psychosurgery is only used as a last avenue of treatment when all others have failed.

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What part of the brain does modern psychosurgery usually target?

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The limbic system (which controls emotions).

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What is the procedure for modern psychosurgery?

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Modern psychosurgery uses heat to burn away small brain tissues in regions of the brain.

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Question

Where does anterior capsulotomy target?

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The internal capsule of the brain.

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Where does anterior cingulotomy target?

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Anterior cingulate gyrus.

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What is subcaudate tractotomy used to treat?

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Answer

Anxiety, depression, and OCD.

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What are the side effects of limbic leucotomy?


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The side effects are short term and include transient hallucinations, amnesia, and mania.

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What was Moniz’s lobotomy procedure?

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Lobotomy involved drilling two holes in the skull and then injecting alcohol into the prefrontal cortex, effectively destroying brain tissue there.

Later, Moniz adapted this procedure by using a leucotome device to remove portions of the prefrontal cortex.

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What was the ‘ice pick method’ Freeman developed?

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This method included using an instrument that resembled an ice pick to make two small holes in the eye sockets and then wriggling the instrument around to sever the connections in the prefrontal cortex. 

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What has been found to be the effectiveness level of anterior capsulotomy?

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Around 50%

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Why were early psychosurgeries so popular?


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There were not many treatments available at the time, and mental institutions were overly crowded. Psychiatrists were desperate for a cure.

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Who was the founder of group analytic psychotherapy? 

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Foulkes founded the group analytic psychotherapy intervention in the 1940s. 

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What is the definition of group analytic psychotherapy is? 

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The group analytic psychotherapy meaning is an intervention that is a form of personal therapy that attempts to help people identify unconscious memories that may be contributing to dysfunctional behaviour through group effort. 

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Question

Which of the following psychodynamic principles does group analytic psychotherapy emphasise? 

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Answer

Unconscious memories 

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What is the purpose of group analytic psychotherapy? 

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The purpose of group analytic psychotherapy is to:

  • understand and improve social and interpersonal functioning with group efforts
  • help gain insight of hidden messages in behaviour and develop skills such as relating to others
  • learn interpersonal skills to help clients to easily integrate into family and society 

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