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Behavioral Strategies: Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

During this week, several behavioral strategies and the worth of cognitive-behavior therapy have to be discussed. Two major readings are recommended, including behavioral strategies to improve mood, increase energy, and solve problems by Wright, Basco, and Thase (2017) and the approaches to monitoring progress by Persons (2008). Although these two chapters come from different books, it seems that they improve each other to make sure a proper treatment plan for mentally ill patients is developed. The major points made by Wright et al. (2017) are the recognition of a behavioral action plan, activity scheduling, and graded-task procedures as the methods for patients to achieve positive behavioral outcomes.

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Persons (2008) suggests the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Day Log as the means to monitor the progress of the therapist’s work with a patient. Despite the fact that certain limitations and weaknesses may be identified in both readings, the presence of illustrative techniques, clear definitions and explanations, and evidence taken from other credible materials make the chosen sources effective.

The main idea of this week chapters is to introduce a method (instrument) as a part of cognitive-behavior therapy, give examples to show how it should be used, and support the discussion with reasons. According to Wright et al. (2017), behavioral activation helps patients be reenergized and supported. A behavioral action plan is a common step to guide the patient’s actions and improve his or her mood. Patients with severe depression or other mental health disorder may benefit from activity scheduling, where actions are systematically recorded to improve people’s lifestyles. Finally, graded-task procedures promote the creation of a step-by-step guide to define what actions may be avoided.

Persons (2008) underlines that any therapist’s recommendation and activity should be evaluated, and monitoring cannot be ignored. As soon progress is achieved, a new task must be set. However, if failure or problems occurs, new tactics have to be offered. There are many reasons for monitoring, including motivation, increased awareness, and the creation of trustful relationships between a therapist and a patient. It is important to monitor at the beginning and end of a session or during the entire treatment plan.

In the chapter about monitoring progress, several scales are mentioned as examples for further practitioners. There are no case studies or video resources with the help of which the offered material can be investigated. Still, an evident example of how the BDI can be applied to Janice case is offered. A vignette with the Daily Log technique is another way to measure different aspects of the working process (Persons, 2008). In the chapter by Wright et al. (2017), there are many vignettes, cases studies, and video material. In vignettes, activity scheduling (offered to patients) and guides (offered to therapists) are illustrated as the techniques to promote and control behavioral changes.

Case examples introduce five patients (Juliana, Charles, Robert, Meredith, and Jonathan) with their problems and the ways of how a therapist can influence their mood and help. Activity scheduling is proved to as effective as behavioral action plans for patients, and therapists succeed in controlling their activities during a certain period of time. Videos contribute to a better understanding of the same behavioral techniques and show how to use emotions and supplementary material in practice.

In the chapters under analysis, the authors demonstrate a high level of professionalism by combing theoretical techniques and their practical applications. Although there are no clearly defined theories in Persons’ reading, there are many references to credible sources, which is the strength. For example, the study by Lambert et al. is mentioned as a background for therapists to monitor both outcomes and processes. Persons (2008) proves that data collection at different stages of treatment is a good chance to understand a disease or a problem, identify what works and what does not work, and what changes may be offered. In other words, coherent flow of events is a significant strength of the readings. Additional benefits include the presence of visual material and the structure of chapters with a possibility to differentiate a theory, case examples, and explanations.

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However, no attention to common mistakes in monitoring progress and recommendations of how to avoid complications in behavioral treatment tactics are the limitations. If the authors mentioned these items, they would help the reader deal with various tasks and understand what steps should be taken if a mistake or a challenge occurred.

Another recommendation is given to the way of how vignettes and tables are organized in the chapters. Persons (2008) weekly BDI scores show the progress of the work done by a therapist with a patient. However, there are no clarifications on how to define BDI score numbers. It seems that credible information was mentioned in previous chapters. To provide a reader with a clear guide, brief annotations on how to complete a score table are required.

In the book by Wright et al. (2017), the organization of the chapter is an excellent example. The authors give definitions, mention cases, describe videos, and make conclusions to make sure the reader understands each element of the technique. Still, there is an evident lack of additional sources for a student or a researcher to address. In case the situation of the patient is interesting, a person may be willing to find other articles or books where some other perspectives are discussed. Wright et al. (2017) rely on personal thoughts and investigations only. It may be recommended to add modern peer-reviewed articles or books to find new information on the topic and continue research.

In general, despite the existing shortages of the readings, the material offered in the chapters is enough to understand the idea of cognitive behavior therapies. The authors divided their projects into sections, and the reader is able to learn, observe how to use techniques in practice, and try to develop independent projects. The chosen language is easy to read, and the sentences are not complex so the reader with any level of knowledge, as well as non-native English speaker, can grasp information. There are many interesting real-life examples for a future therapist to observe and learn how to monitor their decisions and treatment methods.

In both books, behavioral techniques and monitoring urgency are discussed in a clear way to contribute to new intentions to study the field of cognitive behavior therapy and discover educative moments and solutions. The authors do not give orders or recommendations but describe situations and techniques so that the reader can make a choice. Week 5 was a good opportunity to improve an understanding of planning and monitoring human behaviors from a therapeutic point of view.

References

Persons, J. B. (2008). The case formulation approach to cognitive-behavior therapy: An illustrated guide. New York, NY: Guilford.

Wright, J. H., Basco, M. R., & Thase, M. E. (2017). Learning cognitive-behavior therapy (2nd ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.

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