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Evidence Based Therapy of Psychosocial Disorders

Psychosocial disorders are a group of disorders characterized by mood and behavioral derangements. The exact etiology of psychosocial disorders is not known. However, it is thought that they are caused by or influenced by life processes (Carlson, 2010). Maladjusted cognitive processes are also thought to play a part in causation of psychosocial disorders. Psychological disorders often lead to difficulty in interaction and fitting into social situations. Psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy are used to manage psychosocial disorders.

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Counseling is the primary mode of treatment for psychosocial disorders that do not have an organic cause (Epperly, Kevin, 2000). Counseling therapy exists in a variety of forms. The approaches that can be taken include cognitive therapy, psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and group therapy.

Group therapy involves seeking help from others in with a similar condition. This involves regular attendance of therapy sessions in which advice and counsel are given by other members of the group. A trained therapist like a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a psychiatric nurse facilitates the process.

Group therapies are highly effective in treating some psychosocial disorders like addiction and substance dependence. Drugs have been known to cause a decline in cognitive function. Reduction in cognitive function in turn significantly affects the life of an addict. Cognitive therapy helps an individual to regain lost cognitive function. Cognitive therapy focuses on restoring or establishing cognitive functions like memory and concentration.

Psychotherapy can require hospitalization. This is therapy that requires a controlled environment for better outcome. Some psychosocial disorders like substance abuse require this kind of approach since environment is an important aspect of adherence. Environment can cause relapse or worsen of a condition. Exposure to stimuli or aggravating factors in the environment is reduced by hospitalization.

Pharmacotherapy of psychosocial disorders is reserved for those conditions with a known organic cause. However, this approach cannot be used in isolation. It has to be used as an adjunct to psychotherapy. Psychosocial disorders that have a link with depression, substance abuse, mood disorders, and schizophrenia can benefit from pharmacotherapy. Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are used to treat depression and affective disorders.

Mood stabilizers like lithium have been used to treat mood disorders. Patients who receive both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy have better outcomes as compared to those receiving drug therapies alone. Drugs can also be used to manage addiction. Drugs can be used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms or minimize craving. Nicotine addictions are treated with transdermal nicotine patches. Cognitive enhancers can also be used for conditions that affect mental function. Attention deficit disorders are particularly responsive to this therapy.

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Alternative forms of therapy for psychosocial disorders exist. Art therapy and music therapy have been tried. Together they improve concentration of an individual. Creative processes provide a diversion from a current problem and may enhance the overall outcome (Crawford, Talwar, 2006).

Art provides a means to express and understand personal emotion. The patient takes the role of an artist and is permitted to express emotion through art. Later, the result can be used to assist the patient gain an insight into their emotion. The therapist can then formulate an appropriate individualized response.

Psychosocial disorders span a range of mental disorders characterized by behavioral abnormalities. Psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy can be used to treat this group of disorders. Psychotherapy is effective for those conditions with no known organic cause while pharmacotherapy is used for those conditions which have an organic cause. Generally both approaches are used where there is an organic cause.


Carlson, N. (2010). Psychology the Science of Behaviour. Toronto, Ontario: Pearson Education Incorporated.

Crawford, N., Talwar, N. (2006). Music therapy for in-patients with schizophrenia: Exploratory randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 189 (5). pp. 405–9.

Epperly, D., Kevin, M. (2000). Health Issues in Men: Part II. Common Psychosocial Disorders. American Family Physician, 62. pp. 117-24.

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