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James Pretzer September 16th, 2008 09:48 AM

Preventing Mental Disorders
CBT has done pretty well in developing effective treatments for a broad range of disorders. However, if we wait for a disorder to develop and then provide treatment, this has obvious drawbacks for the individuals with the disorders and for society. Now, if we could prevent the development of the disorders in the first place...

The February, 2008 issue of Cognitive and Behavioral Practice includes a special series of articles on preventing mental disorders that includes programs for preventing conduct problems, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression.

Quite a bit of work has been done to develop effective prevention programs and test them. One major problem is figuring out how to make such programs financially viable. Personally, I've been interested in prevention for decades. However, as a practitioner the problem is that individuals rarely contact us seeking preventive services and, if they do, insurance usually will cover treatment but not prevention. How do you get people to participate in prevention programs and how do you pay professionals to provide preventive services?

Sokratikos October 2nd, 2008 12:24 PM

Re: Preventing Mental Disorders
The trick would be promoting prevention programs in schools. I believe REE has been doing that for some time. I don't know how successful they have been. But for sure it sounds like (1) a technically wise way to go, because prevention should start early as the roots of psychopathology start early, and (2) an economically wise way to go for both the clients and the professionals: many clients (a classrooom-full per session) per each professional (or 2- or 3- person team).

Of course, I beseech you not be too successful lest the rest of us be out of our jobs. ;) Now seriously, I believe this is the right way to go. The more prevention is done the less demand for individual therapy. We'll be busy anyway doing the prevention (and earning from it without wrenching people's wallets) so we won't need to charge that much. Everybody wins.

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