research

Investigating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy treatments for Anxiety Disorder with Psychologists

How Patients Respond to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment Homework

Stress is a common experience for all walks of life. Some people experience more stress than others, while everyone copes with stress in their own unique way. My thesis research will investigate how technology can serve as an intervention system to help people cope with stress more effectively. This research will investigate users who suffer from high levels of stress and are seeking treatment to alleviate their symptoms. This tool will serve as an automated system in which biosensors will collect real-time data of the user, calculate stress levels, and encourage the user to engage in various stress-reducing techniques. Thus, my research will begin with interviewing psychology graduate students (secondary stakeholders) who have experience with treating anxiety disorders and will provide qualitative data that will assist my design concepts.

Research of cognitive behavioral therapy has provided empirical support for its efficacy of changing behavior through in-session therapy and assigned homework for patients to complete outside of therapy. By better understanding the treatment experiences of these practitioners, I hope to develop a device that will create the best user experience to allow users to maintain a healthier level of stress.

There have been some research findings that have used technology as a mediator between cognitive behavioral therapy and patient. Research in emotional eating in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) suggests that in order to modify eating behaviors, one must identify what triggers emotional eating and what makes the person become aware of their maladaptive behavior (Carrol, 2013, p. 1). The way CBT approaches this is by having the person keep daily food and mood logs to encourage “real-time self-monitoring”. This model of changing behavior hopes to bring the automatic thoughtless actions into consciousness to motivate engagement (Carrol, 2013, p. 2). In Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating, participants were asked to use a mobile application EmotiTree, to log their mood every hour as well as their eating patterns. In addition, they investigated on an intervention technique that asked users to do breathing exercises whenever they would input stress or anxiety. Results showed that 87.5% people became more aware of their eating habits but only 37.5% reported that their eating behaviors changed (Carrol, 2013, p. 3).

Designing for Positive Health Affect (Toscos, 2013, p154) is a project that uses three different theoretical frameworks that help shape design recommendations to help counter the negative emotions associated to glucometer devices for adolescents. Current glucose measuring devices generate negative emotions associated with the device. In order to understand why, this paper conducted two interviews to reveal different needs of children dealing with Type I Diabetes and how it affects the parent-child relationship. These interviews were designed to gain a better understanding of concerns that span across different developmental stages regarding the use of glucometers and to seek ways of lowering emotional barriers of using the device. In the interviews between parent and child, the researchers realized that these devices lacked a communication platform to help facilitate conversation between the two about the child’s glucose levels.

My research will investigate patients’ behavior involving their use of stress-reducing techniques (e.g., methods of reminding themselves). Thus, my inquiry will begin with interviewing 6 psychologists to ask about the behaviors of their patients and what types of disorders involve high stress, and what kinds of interventions are used. My questions will sought to answer specifically why the specific interventions are used, when they are implemented, how effective they found them to be, and how often they are used, and what kinds of customized changes are needed to be made.

I chose to inquire within this community because they are more accessible to recruit than patients who suffer from anxiety disorders. The process to recruit these users for interviews would require me as a researcher to approach counseling centers, and ask for permission to recruit their patients. In addition, it would also require participants to expose their mental illness, which I may be perceived as an invasive interviewer even if I were to offer compensation for their time and information.

Through meeting these psychologists who have experience with cognitive behavioral therapy, I would like to conduct in-depth interviews on the phone and in-person at The New School Counseling Center and Rutgers faculty and Graduate students at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology.

References

Carroll, E., Czerwinski, M., Roseway, A., Kapoor, A., Johns, P., Rowan, K., Schraefel, M.C (2013). Food and Mood: An Exploration in Emotional Eating Intervention.

Toscos, T., Connelly, K., Rogers, Y. (2013). Designing for Positive Health Affect. International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare and Workshops.

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