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Cognitive-behavioral therapy is defined as a psychotherapeutic treatment that involves making people learn how to identify and change those disturbing or destructive thoughts, leading to a negative influence on behavior or emotions. It focuses on changing the automatic negative thought that mostly contributes to worsened emotional difficulties, anxiety, and depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be administered either to individuals, groups, or even families (Bjornsson et al., 2011).
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for family and group is a brief and solution-focused therapy involving more than one person. Family CBT focuses on supporting family members into thinking and acting more adaptively alongside learning how to make decisions that create a friendlier and comfortable family environment.
For family therapy, the sessions involve the person experiencing a cognitive condition and the family members who are usually there to support the patient. With family CBT, cognitions, emotions, and an individual’s behavior are seen to have a mutual influence on other members (Yalom & Leszcz, 2008). To elaborate this, an example is from my practicum, where a male patient named David was battling alcoholism, and the wife and children were concerned with the abusive language and violent behaviors that he used to portray to then when he came home drunk. The family therapy was an eye-opener for David, who realized how his actions had caused emotional torture to his wife and his two children. The therapy was effective but not without challenges since the family members would say something that would make David sound defensive and try to blame his drunk behavior on situations and events. However, he was able after six weeks of therapy to halt his drinking. This was achieved due to the family members’ support since earlier he had tried individual therapies with no success.
On the other hand, group therapy involves a group of more than ten members who are not necessarily familiar with each other. The group CBT usually utilizes the group members
sharing and interaction as a remedy to the challenges one is facing. Everyone narrates their experience and challenges, and one gets to compare with his or her problem and change how he/she perceives the problem. The seasons may be weekly or twice a week, with each session taking one to two hours. In the sessions, an individual having challenges shares them with the group. Another member contributes their knowledge on how to deal with the challenges, thus the member getting clues and answers on how to deal with the problem (Yalom & Leszcz, 2008).
Like the family CBT, group therapy relies on the other members’ contributions to come up with ways to deal with their challenges. The members may be affected or not even affected by the same condition or challenge. Unlike the individual therapy where the person experiencing a cognitive-behavioral challenge only has the counselor give the professional directive on how to face the challenges (DeViva et al., 2018). The group or family CBT usually is more effective than the individual CBT in that one gets a wider range of support as well as diverse ways to face the problem as many people contribute in giving the solution either from their personal experiences or their perspect5ive. This brings diversification as it was clarified by the practicum example where David was unable to face his alcoholic challenge through the use of individual therapy. Still, when the family came in, he could use their opinions and overcame the challenge.
However, no matter how effective group/family therapy may be, the counselor may face challenges when using this approach. One of the challenges is the problem of some of the patients being unable to open up to situations that are a key element in cognitive behavior therapy. The key step to healing is usually sharing the causal event of the patient’s challenge (Yalom & Leszcz, 2008). In cases where the patient experiences anxiety or depressive disorder due to an event in their life, such as rape, it is necessary the patient shares it with others to get the best way to face the challenge. Some people may find it difficult to share the event with a group of people or even families to fear what others will perceive him/her.
Also, members may have different anterior motives where they may engage in activities that may negatively affect the group therapy sessions. An example from the reference book the theory and practice of group therapy, a narration of the grand dame where the author narrates how one of the group patient Valerie who was struggling with several marital discords went to the extent of testing the counselor with a favour that would seem as favors by other group members. She went ahead to privately luring some male members of the group into having intercourse, which negatively affected the sessions that followed. She later went to her husband and narrated the situation, which in return led to the husband threatening the two group members who were lured by her (Yalom & Leszcz, 2008). This shows some of the challenges a group CBT can face.
Bjornsson, A. S., Bidwell, L. C., Brosse, A. L., Carey, G., Hauser, M., Mackiewicz Seghete, K. L., … Craighead, W. E. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral group therapy versus group psychotherapy for social anxiety disorder among college students: A randomized controlled trial. Depression and Anxiety, 28(11), 1034-1042. doi:10.1002/da.20877
DeViva, J. C., McCarthy, E., Bieu, R. K., Santoro, G. M., Rinaldi, A., Gehrman, P., & Kulas, J. (2018). Group cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia delivered to veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder receiving residential treatment is associated with improvements in sleep independent of changes in posttraumatic stress disorder. Traumatology, 24(4), 293-300. doi:10.1037/trm0000152
Yalom, I. D., & Leszcz, M. (2008). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy. Basic Books.
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