Essay: Psychotherapy

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  • Subject area(s): Psychology essays
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  • Psychotherapy
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Managing a mental disorder with psychological rather than medical means is known as psychotherapy. It is a process of sensing and deciphering patients and their troubles and developing explanations and answers. Psychotherapy methods can be placed into five general categories. The psychoanalysis approach, which most commonly identified with Sigmund Freud, focuses on modifying problematic actions, thoughts, and feelings by determining a person’s unconscious interests and desires. Behavior therapy is a technique that Ivan Pavlov made significant additions to by uncovering classical conditioning. The target of this therapy is to pay attention to learning’s role in cultivating normal and abnormal behaviors. Cognitive therapy highlights what people think rather than what they do. The humanistic practice concentrates on people’s ability to make the right choices and form their best self. The fifth approach of psychotherapy is holistic which adjusts the treatment according to each patient’s needs.

The argument over if one psychotherapy is more effective or beneficial than another when treating patients with bulimia has been a popular topic for about three decades. Bulimia can be defined as making oneself vomit, take laxatives, or exercise desperately after binge eating. Some symptoms of bulimia include dehydration, mood swings, constipation, and heartburn. Bulimia is a disorder commonly seen in people living in the United States. It can be found in both men and women of various ages. The idea of experimenting and proving the answer is extremely difficult as everyone is different and everyone’s problems are unique. People react to and favor from things variously and adversely.

To begin, there are findings between the types of psychotherapies that say one approach can be more effective than another when trying to stop patients from binge eating, but there are also studies that show the effects of one psychotherapy is equal to another. I believe out of the five general psychotherapies mentioned above including their more specific versions of psychotherapies, some psychotherapies do work better than others when treating patients who have bulimia. Psychotherapists practice in different ways and all psychotherapies are not equally effective. Therefore, I will argue in favor of the proposition that when coming up with solutions to help patients with bulimia, some psychotherapies are more advantageous than others.

To continue, similar to how there are different study techniques to study for a specific test, there are also multiple forms of therapy to help treat bulimia. Even though there are various approaches to prepare for an exam not all study habits work as well as another. This idea can be related to psychotherapies, as not all types of therapy would benefit a patient with bulimia the exact same way or as well as another would or could. A patient who suffers and experiences bulimia puts their body in an unsafe environment. The effects of such a serious mental disorder are alarming and even life threatening. Some effects include an uneven or sporadic heart rate pattern, abnormal potassium levels that are lower than the standard levels, and kidney failures. These effects are caused by the actions and thoughts of bulimic patients. With that in mind, it wouldn’t necessarily make sense that all psychotherapies are equally effective. It is obvious that the ones that would focus on the specific thoughts, behaviors, and actions of a patient with bulimia would have the most success in improving their disorder. Psychotherapies that would also pay attention to the way patients see themselves and interact with others would also have great success. Those psychotherapies would have the most favorable outcomes and progress because they would be directing the attention to the main causes of the problem. It wouldn’t help a patient to fixate on just one of their causes, or their unconscious interests as much as it would help them to think about what and why they are doing what they are to their body.

There have been many scientific investigations over the years that have studied the effects different psychotherapies and have come to conclusions that support and prove my points about all psychotherapies not being equally effective. For example, twenty four years ago, a scientific investigation occurred in hopes to discover the differences between a basic behavioral treatment of cognitive behavior therapy for bulimia and full treatment. Its purpose was to also figure out if cognitive behavior therapy for bulimia had a certain therapeutic result. To conduct the experiment, the researchers split participants into three groups. One group assigned patients with bulimia to receive cognitive behavior therapy, another to have interpersonal therapy, and another to have behavior therapy. Each person from each group had to attend nineteen sessions of their specific assigned therapy over the course of eighteen weeks. After eighteen weeks, the frequency of binge eating was measured. 48% of patients with bulimia who were assigned to behavior therapy experienced withdrawal and after a year follow up only few met the standards for a favorable outcome.1 Patients who received cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy attained similar results as patients from both therapies made valuable, long-lasting changes and no longer had the symptoms of bulimic patients.1 The major significance of these results were that it was proven clear that the basic behavioral treatment of cognitive behavior therapy for bulimia was not as helpful or advantageous as the full treatment. This finding helps prove the position that not all psychotherapies are equally effective. It expresses that it is important to focus on many aspects of a person who is suffering from bulimia, not just their behavior. It supports my suggestions and points of the qualities a psychotherapy would have to have to benefit a patient with bulimia. It does this by showing the success of cognitive behavior therapy, which focuses on more than one cause of bulimia and works on altering a patient’s way of thinking and behaviors, and the success of interpersonal therapy, which focuses on the way patients see themselves and how they interact with others.

Based off of the findings of the study that took place in 1993, another study was formed and performed in 2000. The investigators gathered two-hundred and twenty women that were all around the age of twenty-eight years old who suffered from bulimia. In the study, one hundred and ten of the subjects were selected to receive interpersonal therapy as the other group of one hundred and ten patients were designated to undergo cognitive behavior therapy. This study took place for twenty weeks as the patients were required to attend nineteen individual meetings of their specific type of therapy.2 The women who received cognitive behavior therapy focused on paying attention to mental thoughts and concentrated on healing the condition. The other women who were assigned to interpersonal therapy fixated on bringing about social change. The results of the study showed that at the end of twenty weeks, more women who underwent cognitive behavior therapy recovered and reached normal eating habits and actions than did those who had interpersonal therapy. However, the results at a year follow up showed that the patients who received either therapy both produced the same positive results.2 Overall, the results proved that the women who used cognitive behavior therapy to cure their condition were more effective because they were faster to generate clinical change than the women who practiced interpersonal therapy. These findings continue to support my position by presenting the results and data that some psychotherapies can be considered one effective than others due to the timing of the success and focuses of the therapy.

The effectiveness of one type psychotherapy was proven more effective than another, again, in a more recent scientific study published in 2012. The researchers randomly assigned over sixty patients with bulimia to either five months of twenty spread out sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy or weekly psychoanalytic therapy that lasted for two years.3 The patients who were assigned to having psychoanalytic therapy saw their therapist much more often than those who were assigned to cognitive behavioral therapy, but regardless of seeing their therapist more psychoanalytic therapy proved to be less effective. Five months after the meetings with their therapists, only six percent of clients who received psychoanalysis therapy stopped binge eating, whereas forty-two percents of clients who received cognitive behavioral therapy stopped.3 This study validates that one type of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, can benefit patients with bulimia and bring about considerable improvements more than another type, psychoanalytic therapy. These discoveries from this study help prove my position that all psychotherapies cannot be considered equally effective when treating patients with bulimia.

Regardless of the powerful findings of science that prove some psychotherapies more advantageous than others, some people still believe all psychotherapies are uniformly powerful and useful in treating bulimic patients. They support the idea of the Dodo Bird effect which claims despite different aspects, all psychotherapies yield proportionate and equal reactions and results. There are also scientific studies that have generated results that express a psychotherapy being equal to another. For example, in 2002 a study was conducted to compare group cognitive behavior therapy to group interpersonal psychotherapy and its effects on people with bulimia. The study consisted of one hundred and sixty two patients who were selected at random and authorized to attend twenty meetings once a week of group interpersonal psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. The outcomes of the experiment were found to be very much alike as the improvement rates of group cognitive behavior therapy and group interpersonal therapy only differed by 5%.4 All patients regardless of either therapy experienced a decline in many symptoms and side effects of bulimia. This study agrees and supports the idea that psychotherapies are equally effective as its results claim that the two therapies could be substitutes of each other. However, this study is questionable because it claims the two therapies could be substitutes of each other, but one therapy, the group cognitive behavior therapy had a 5% higher improvement rate compared to group interpersonal therapy. This percentage translates to 64 out of 81 patients improving their conditions of bulimia compared to 59 out of 81 patients improving their symptoms. With this information, it is odd to claim that the two psychotherapies could be replacements or an equal option to each other.

Another study published in 2017 tried to correlate and match two different psychotherapies, integrative cognitive-affective therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy-enhanced. Eighty subjects had to attend twenty one meetings that lasted for fifty minutes to receive one of the two therapies. The subjects were all adults, but mostly female, who were around the age of twenty-seven and showed signs of bulimia.5 Those who received integrative cognitive-affective therapy worked on their determination, feelings, importance of meal planning, knowledge of nutrition, and their overall health. The other group who received cognitive-behavioral therapy-enhanced concentrated on self monitoring, which included an assessment of improvement, problem solving, specific actions and demeanors, and sticking to a plan. The results showed that 85% of people who received integrative cognitive-affective therapy and 75% of patients who were assigned to cognitive-behavioral therapy-enhanced completed the sessions and showed signs of improvement.5 The researchers of this study insisted that the results of the two psychotherapies were very similar and showed no dominant differences.5 However, this finding is not very significant. It again, similar to the study that took place in 2002, says there aren’t any substantial differences, yet the improvement rates differ by 10%. It is also not very significant because it compares two very like psychotherapies that both focus on a specific type of cognitive therapy. If it compared psychotherapies that differed more from each other, the researchers would’ve gotten results that showed one psychotherapy was more favorable than other.

The argument that psychotherapies are equally effective is extremely weak because the studies that claim that the psychotherapies are, almost always only compare similar psychotherapies. These studies also can be considered to jump to conclusions since the improvement rates are not exactly the same, yet the researchers still claim a psychotherapy to be a substitute of another. With the finding from these studies, it is very difficult to use that information to come to a conclusion that all psychotherapies are equally effective. It is more appropriate based on the critical discoveries from the other studies, that distinguish multiple psychotherapies from each other, to accept and conclude that all psychotherapies are not equally effective. Those studies support and prove the position that all psychotherapies are not equally sufficent as their results confirm that the psychotherapies that focus on the specific thoughts, behaviors, and actions of a patient with bulimia have the most success in improving the disorder. Their results also show that the psychotherapies that also pay attention to the way patients see themselves and interact with others also has great success.

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