Cognitive Remediation (CR) is not a new technique but one that is seeing a resurgence, which is proving incredibly useful to those suffering from moderate to severe mental illness. CR is different from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) but employs some of the same techniques.
CBT teaches you to think your way through emotionally challenging problems. CR uses drills and repetitive practice to help patients in the areas of memory, attention, and problem solving. CR focuses on improving the underlying neurological functions, which assist in memory, attention, and overall life skills. Many clients, who have suffered with the repercussions of their mental illness throughout their life, are saying that CR has turned their world around.
In the past, mental illness was looked at as something that would profoundly alter the course of one’s life. For many, it meant giving up lifelong dreams and finding ways to simply cope with and reduce their symptoms. Even living independently can be difficult for someone with memory issues or cognitive impairment as a result of mental illness. Cognitive Remediation teaches people ways to follow directions and retain information given to them by a boss, friend, or family member.
These types of deficits can prevent people from completing their educational goals, holding down a job, or even maintaining a stable relationship. With the use of CR, individuals are gaining the skills they need to improve their cognitive function and learn to not just live with their illness but to live well with it. Computer programs are employed, which look like computer games, but serve to increase a patient’s abilities. Difficulty increases as the users skill level improves. According to Alice Medalia, an international leader in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation, CR has been shown to actually reshape the brain of some people with mental illness in a positive way.
This type of treatment is not for everyone and the proponents of its use are not claiming that it is a miracle cure. They are simply acknowledging its value and reporting that for those that it does help it can be the difference between living with no hope and living a rich and fulfilling life.
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