Changed Thinking Leads to Changed Behavior

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 17 (UPI) — A U.S. researcher says depressed clients had greater improvement if therapists focused on changing thinking before changing behavior.

Daniel Strunk of Ohio State University in Columbus suggests therapists who spend the first few sessions of therapy using cognitive techniques to have patients break out of negative thought patterns are more likely to see patients also change behavior.

“In our sample of cognitive therapy patients, cognitive techniques appeared to promote a lessening of depression symptoms in a way that was not true of behavioral techniques,” Strunk said in a statement.

He noted recent behavioral approaches to treating severe depression may have led some to suspect cognitive techniques are not important for more severely depressed patients.

Strunk, Melissa Brotman of the National Institute of Mental Health and Robert DeRubeis of the University of Pennsylvania looked at the progress of 60 patients diagnosed with major depression being treated at two university clinics who agreed to have their sessions videotaped.

The study, published in Behaviour Research and Therapy, suggests cognitive strategies are key to helping patients in the first weeks of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

The researchers also found the patients improved more when they worked on a plan with their therapists and followed the plan.

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