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To what extent does evidence show that patients benefit from psychological therapies? Free essay! Download now

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To what extent does evidence show that patients benefit from psychological therapies?

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Trained psychotherapists use psychotherapy to help clients in problems of living. It is an interpersonal relational intervention. By using techniques such as experiential relationship building, dialogue and communication psychotherapists help to improve the patients or clients sense of well-being, or improve group relationships (Jerome 1988). People with mental illnesses are the most common to use psychological therapy in current practice. The patients benefits from using counselling and psychological therapy. It has shown to reduce stress, risk of harm etc. Practitioners need to take many factors into consideration when referring a patient for a specific therapy as not all therapies are effective for all patients (Cluzeau, Littlejohns, Grimshaw, Feder and Moran 2002).


There are many types of therapeutic interventions that psychotherapists use. Some of the types of therapy include Individual therapy. The therapist and patient have one to one session. Therapy can only work if the patient wants help and a good relationship is established. The therapist needs to have empathy for what the patient is experiencing. Couple therapy is where techniques are applied to both partners in a relationship. In family therapy family members are treated by one or maybe more therapists. However in group therapy different approaches such as supportive, cognitive, behavioural and psychodynamic can be used for treatment. Client centred based counselling takes a non-directive approach by the therapists just listening to the patient’s feelings and problems. Behavioural therapy involves the patient being exposed to fear or anxiety provoking situations to help relieve unwanted behaviours. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been shown to be most effective in the areas of major depression disorders, anxiety, panic OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and eating disorders. The therapist works together with the patient to select the ideal approach to solve the problem. Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a type of depth psychology, the main focus of which is to reveal the unconscious content of a client's psyche in an attempt to ease psychic tension.

Is therapy beneficial? Within the last half century results from thousands of studies have given us and unequivocal answer which is yes (Lambert and Olgles, 2004). Research has been carried out on patients to compare client’s level of well being before and after they have taken therapy. By using some indicator of psychological distress for example measuring the number of hours slept each night it gives a clearer sign if the therapy works (Cooper 2008). Findings have shown that clients improve after they have had therapy than before it. Eisler et al (2000) conducted a study on a randomised treatment trial of two forms of outpatient family intervention for anorexia nervosa. The study showed the efficacy of family interventions in the treatment of adolescent anorexia nervosa. Before the patients had family therapy they weighed on average 40 kg and after the received twelve months of therapy they gained weight on average 48.2 kg (Cooper 2008). It has become a standard practice for family involvement in therapy even though anorexia patients may still need inpatient treatment in hospitals there is growing evidence that the mobilisation of family resources might be the key to effective treatment, which can prevent the need for to go to hospital. In managing the illness itself and in helping bring out important psychological and family changes family therapy is a successful intervention (Eisler et al. 2000).

Studies have shown there is a positive change in behaviour or external characteristics when clients use counselling or psychotherapy. In addition to this researchers are interested in if there is a change in the clients subjective experiences for instance do they feel less depressed after they have had therapy? Researchers use questionnaires to assess if the therapy is valuable and beneficial to the client. The questionnaires are global measures of psychological distress and the most popular measure used is The Clinical Outcome in Routine Evaluation Outcome Measure (CORE-OM) (Cooper 2000). Evaluating the effectiveness of all areas of healthcare is imperative as this is emphasised and practiced in the United Kingdom. Providing routine data on patient’s outcome in the mental health services is expected (U.K. Department of Health, 1996, 1997). The U.K. Department of Health strategic review of psychotherapy services (U.K. Department of Health, 1996) identified that "important links between clinical practice and research are established and maintained by using outcome measures" (p. 62). Evidence gathered from clinical settings (effectiveness data) needs to be compared to the results from randomized controlled-treatment trials (efficacy data) (Barkham 2004). Findings from studies that use this method have shown that clients rate them less distressed after they have undergone therapy than before. For example Stiles, Barkham, Twigg, Mellor-Clark and Cooper (2006) found that the average CORE-OM scores that were obtained from primary and secondary care settings were 1.74 from 1,309 clients before therapy to 0.85 after therapy (Cooper 2000).

A large amount of trials have been carried out to examine the effects of psychological treatments of depression. Findings have indicated that psychological treatments do have great effects (Cuijpers, Straten, Warmerdam and Smits 2008). The outcomes have shown that patient’s symptoms reduce and their well-being increases. Adults are not the only ones that show improvement in psychological treatments as older adults show effective results (Cuijpers, Straten and Smit, F 2006). Also women who have had postpartum depression (Lumley, Austin and Mitchell 2004) and patients that have depression and medical disorders show improvement. The most common form of treatment used in studies is cognitive behaviour therapy, however it is still hasn’t been found to be more effective than other treatment regimes out there (Gloaguen, Cottraux, Cucherat and Blackburn 1998). Both group treatments and individual treatments have been shown to be effective in treating depression.

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