DAILY / MAY 21, 2013, VOL. 3, NO. 23   Send Feedback l View Online
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2013 APA's Annual Meeting Special Edition
CBT for Youth Can Impact Both Brain and Body, Says Researcher

Eva SzigethyThere is growing recognition that neurobiological communication between the brain and body during childhood development can influence the long-term trajectory of both psychiatric and physical chronic diseases. Learning-based interventions, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), provide a unique opportunity to train the brain during childhood when there is both optimal neuroplasticity and relative absence of chronically conditioned maladaptive behaviors, according to Eva Szigethy, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry, pediatrics, and medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and an NIMH-funded researcher.

“In our studies of CBT to treat depression in youth with chronic systemic inflammation, we found that not only was treatment associated with reduced psychopathology, it also had a positive impact on longer-term course of systemic inflammation,” said Szigethy today at APA’s 2013 annual meeting.

While there is growing empirical support for the use of CBT across a variety of psychiatric and other medical disorders, it can be difficult for practitioners outside of research settings to find opportunities to learn. This led Szigethy, along with her colleagues John Weisz, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and prominent CBT clinical researcher at Harvard University, and Robert Findling, M.D., M.B.A, professor and chief of child psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, to develop a practical training resource to teach CBT to mental health clinicians. This resource—Cognitive-Behavior Therapy for Children and Adolescents, published by American Psychiatric Publishing, provides the comprehensive tools to help practitioners master CBT with detailed empirically supported protocols for a range of pediatric psychopathology, case examples, and video demonstrations, she said.

In Szigethy’s annual meeting session, she focused on the nuances of learning CBT to treat youth, such as dealing with resistance in either the child or family, sensitivity to developmental and cultural differences, and challenging psychiatric clinical issues such as suicidality and defiance, as well as comorbid medical problems such as pain and obesity. Through greater use of high-quality CBT interventions, she said, a greater number of children and adolescents can benefit by learning health-promoting behaviors that in turn can lead to reduced health care costs.




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