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Whether one is talking about opioid addiction, psychosocial claims or returntowork hurdles, a buzz phrase in workers compensation is “cognitive behavioral therapy.”
Dubbed CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy has its roots in treating depression, according to Norman Cotterell, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania-based clinical coordinator at the Beck Institute, a training center created by Aaron T. Beck, who developed cognitive behavior therapy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in the 1960s.
“Depression is probably the major complication for any injury,” said Mr. Cotterell.
“Depression is triggered by loss … An injury results in loss: loss of capability, loss of one’s connection to a career they value,” he said. “Depression will add insult to that workplace injury and make it much, much worse.”
CBT teaches that “it’s not the situation that makes me feel the way we do, it’s the way we think about it,” he said, adding that the therapy typically involves exercises in examining what a person’s negative beliefs are and replacing them with better thoughts.
Dr. Simon Rego, chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said the therapy involves understanding the role that thoughts and actions can play in emotions and feelings, and then learning skills to challenge and change both how the patient thinks and what the person can do, which often leads the patient to feel better.
“CBT has a strong evidence base; the research shows that it can be highly effective at helping people improve the way they cope with problems,” Dr. Rego added.
Mounting evidence demonstrates that some troublesome workers compensation claims have more to do with the mental aspect of being injured than the injury itself.