At our center in Ridgefield, CT, we support children and adults experiencing a behavioral, social, or emotional issue every day. As part of these interactions, we use short-term, intensive psychotherapy and brain-based therapies in our BrainBehaviorReset™ Program. For many reasons families seek out short-term, intensive therapy but ultimately they are looking for effective treatment for clinical issues.
The Benefits of Intensive Short-Term Therapy
Intensive short-term therapy can provide many benefits for individuals seeking treatment for mental health concerns. First, it can be a more convenient option for those who have limited time or resources for treatment. Secondly, it can provide a more focused and structured approach to therapy that can lead to quicker progress and better outcomes. Additionally, intensive therapy can provide a more immersive and supportive experience for individuals who may benefit from a higher level of care or need an alternative to psychiatric hospitalization.
Research and Intensive Psychotherapy
Meta-analysis research demonstrates that intensive, short-term psychotherapy is effective for a variety of conditions, including ADHD, OCD, PTSD, Autism, anxiety, social anxiety, and depression. When clinical issues are addressed with intensity, the brain allows for a greater level of behavioral learning.
In other words, practicing and intensely reinforcing healthy behaviors and thoughts daily make it easier to break habits – at the conscious or subconscious level. The brain is another muscle in the body. Just like athletes train their bodies with intensity, to respond automatically without conscious awareness, so we can train the brain. It takes a lot of reinforcement and practice to perform athletically at that level. The same learning can occur with thinking, beliefs, and behaviors when intensive therapies are applied.
How Intensive Short-term Cognitive Behavioral and Exposure Psychotherapy Can Treat OCD
In a 2018 twelve-month follow-up study, individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) received intensive Exposure and Response Therapy (ERP) over four days, and it was found to be highly effective. The study found that the concentrated exposure treatment (cET), called the Bergen Method, led to a 6-month remission rate for 70% of the 65 participants.
The follow-up study found that 83.1% responded to treatment at 12-month follow-up, and 67.7% of patients were classified as recovered. Our center uses the highly research-based and effective ERP therapy for OCD because it has been shown to reduce obsessions and compulsions over other treatments and therapies.
How Psychotherapy for Anxiety and Depression Can Help
There are several research studies that support the efficacy of intensive, short-term psychotherapy for anxiety and depression,and many locations throughout the US use a model of intensive outpatient therapy in a group format for anxiety and depression. Typically, intensive programming for anxiety or depression is used when there is a high level of distress and someone needs more support than individual therapy.
How Research Supports Intensive Neurofeedback Reinforces Short-term, Intensive Therapy
Almost since its inception, Neurofeedback has been used intensively over a short amount of time to treat addiction and PTSD. Research indicates that intensive neurofeedback helps break a drug addict’s cycle of drive drug-seeking behaviors. Replicated research has demonstrated that cravings and relapses reduced significantly when using the Peniston Protocol, which requires two neurofeedback sessions a day over 10 days Of note, many of these addiction research studies included participants also diagnosed with PTSD and found a reduction in PTSD symptoms as well as drug cravings.
Additional research has demonstrated that Neurofeedback treatment for those with PTSD produces a calming effect on brain and behavior. When Neurofeedback is used in conjunction with psychotherapy, the CNS is calmer and the subconscious brain is more open to change. Thus, making the therapeutic process more effective. Because the brain is regulated, individuals are more capable of changing behaviors, thoughts, and negative beliefs.
How is Neurofeedback Different from Neuromodulation?
Neuromodulation uses technology that acts directly upon nerves. By delivering electrical or pharmaceutical agents directly to a target area, nerve activity is altered or modulated.
Neuromodulation changes how neurons act in the context of neuronal circuits, allowing for the reconfiguration of networks into different functional circuits. Many hospitals have neuromodulation clinics for those whose neural activity has been disrupted due to some kind of issue (genetic, chemical or physical trauma) with the nervous system that causes cognitive, motor, and sensory impairments.
These clinics typically use a short-term, intensive treatment approach. While neurofeedback is a form of neuromodulation and frequently used at these type of clinics, it is distinct from neuromodulation because it works by reinforcing the subconscious to change itself, which produces electrical activity. Since it is used to address a variety of clinical issues, including TBI and stroke, Neurofeedback is often used in neuromodulation clinics to support patients who haven’t responded to traditional treatments, including medication.
Research supports that neurofeedback has long been used as a neuromodulation treatment for those with ADHD along with other clinical conditions.
Why Choose Short-Term, Intensive Therapy?
There are many reasons why families choose intensive, short-term therapy. Some experience an urgent need or crisis that makes it the best option either before or after a higher level of care. They also are making an informed decision to follow the research and use intensive therapies to address a clinical issue.
Others prefer the convenience of a short-term program and feel that the commitment is easier. Moreover, since finding clinicians can be difficult, many families from other states or countries are only able to access our services through short-term, intensive programming. They see the value in an intensive approach housed in one location with expert-level care and psychoeducation.
Where Can I Find Intensive, Short-Term Therapy?
Our center is unique in that we provide expert-level integrative care. Not only do we support children and individuals with intensive, short-term psychotherapy, we also have a trademarked program, BrainBehaviorReset™ Program, that incorporates clinically valid holistic therapies that support the brain and body. We use specific types of psychotherapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Somatic Experiencing Therapy, EFT/Tapping, ERP, play and art therapy and executive functioning training, parent coaching, etc., that is the best fit for each individual and combine it with neurofeedback and biofeedback.
We named our program BrainBehaviorReset™ Program because it reflects an intensive, short-term approach that “reboots” the system to promote brain, body, and emotional wellness. Our program incorporates QEEG Brain Mapping that gives us clear diagnostic information about how the brain is functioning, guides the best course of treatment, allows us to quantify treatment responsiveness.
How to Prepare for Intensive Therapy
Preparing for intensive therapy is essential to ensure that individuals get the most out of their treatment. Before starting therapy, it is important to identify goals and expectations for treatment and to discuss these with our team.
Additionally, parents should take steps to ensure that they have the support and resources needed to manage any practical or emotional challenges that may arise during treatment. This may include arranging for time off from work or school or establishing a support network of family and friends.
The Role of Family and Support Systems in Intensive Therapy
Family and support systems can play a crucial role in the success of intensive therapy. In our program, family members are always involved in treatment sessions or provided with resources and education to better support the individual in therapy. Adressing the family ecosystem is a critical part of getting and staying well. Additionally, having a strong support system can provide emotional support and encouragement during treatment.
Continuing Care After Intensive Therapy
After completing an intensive therapy program, it is important to continue care to maintain progress. In our program, our clients continue with CALM PEMF ™ and at-home neurofeedback. We also recommend participation in support groups, as well as ongoing use of therapeutic techniques and strategies learned in treatment. Additionally, individuals should continue to prioritize self-care and wellness practices, such as exercise, healthy eating, and stress management, to support their and their childs' ongoing mental health.
Abbass, A., Town, J., & Driessen, E. (2012). Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of outcome research. Harvard review of psychiatry, 20(2), 97–108. https://doi.org/10.3109/10673229.2012.677347
Ehlers, A., Hackmann, A., Grey, N., Wild, J., Liness, S., Albert, I., Deale, A., Stott, R., & Clark, D. M. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of 7-day intensive and standard weekly cognitive therapy for PTSD and emotion-focused supportive therapy. The American journal of psychiatry, 171(3), 294–304. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13040552
Hansen, B., Hagen, K., Öst, L. G., Solem, S., & Kvale, G. (2018). The Bergen 4-Day OCD Treatment Delivered in a Group Setting: 12-Month Follow-Up. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 639. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00639
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She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach. She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.