Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness


Which therapies are best for which kinds of problems?

Although there is a fair amount of data that shows that the different types of therapy are equally effective, research also suggests that certain kinds of psychotherapy are best with specific psychological problems. Behavioral therapy is most effective for anxiety disorders such as phobias, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Cognitive therapy is highly effective in mild to moderate depression. Impulsive and compulsive behaviors, such as pathological gambling, self-injurious behaviors, and poor anger management, respond well to skills-building therapies, using both behavioral and cognitive components.

People with mild to moderate personality disorders respond to long-term, insight-oriented treatments, such as psychodynamic therapy, although people with severe personality disorders may also need skills-building treatments. For example, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is specifically designed to treat borderline personality disorder. It is based on behavioral principles and makes use of functional behavioral analyses, but also addresses the poor emotional regulation and problematic interpersonal relationships associated with this disorder.


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