Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Partial Hospitalization Benefits Phobia and Anxiety Patients

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Partial Hospitalization Benefits Phobia and Anxiety Patients

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- A program of partial hospitalization is helping patients with phobias and anxiety disorders get a handle on their fears, Alexander Bystritsky, M.D., said at a psychopharmacology update sponsored by the University of California, Los Angeles.

The program is based on the theory that each patient's illness is an intricate, interdependent process involving beliefs, symptoms, and coping mechanisms that the clinician must understand in its entirety if cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is to work. A heightened level of fear sets the process in motion. Inability to evaluate threats or dangers realistically propels it forward. "To the patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder, there's either 'danger' or 'no danger'; there's no in-between," said Dr. Bystritsky, director of the UCLA anxiety disorders program.

Clinicians who are hoping to break through that pathology must understand the patient's particular phobias and coping strategies, and what does and does not reduce the patient's anxiety.

The university's program addresses that process through an intensive course tailored to each patient. The components of the program include:

* Individual CBT.

* Group therapy for support and for working on issues such as assertiveness and depression.

* Teaching patients to manage their medication.

* Performing volunteer services by supporting other patients.

* Educating the patient and family about the nature of the disorder.

Education is a crucial component, because it makes the patient an active collaborator in the treatment and allows for more in-depth assessment. …

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