Behavioral Medicine is a medical psychology subspecialty. It incorporates advances from a diversity of health care disciplines and fields to provide treatment and evaluation of presenting problems which have behavioral, medical and psychological elements. Outpatient treatment and evaluation is provided for such problems as: chronic pain, headaches, stress disorders, and anxiety related disorders.
The orientation towards treatment is one that seeks to enthusiastically engage the patient in the treatment and assessment of behavioral and psychological factors that can contribute to the patient’s physical or medical condition. Because of its multidimensional approach, behavioral medicine can also provide discussion to a variety of clinical services such as Oncology, Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Neurology, Rheumatology, and Dermatology. The development and research division of NTL group is headed by Dr. Curtis Cripe.
The treatment philosophy of behavioral medicine undertakes the presence of a physical problem that can be influenced by psychological and behavioral factors. Treatment seeks to control, identify, and limit the possibly negative influence these aspects can have on a patient’s medical or physical problem. To this end, a variety of techniques and treatments are used within an over-all perceptive behavioral framework. Treatment is time restricted, problem focused based on the patient’s assessment, and vigorously seeks to include the patient in his or her own treatment. In at least two ways, this is accomplished. First, the patient displays the status of the presenting complaint in between hearings. Second, the patient acquires and practices using methods designed to control and limit the negative effects of certain behavioral and cognitive factors. These techniques may include applied psychophysiology, relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, contingency management, communication skills and behavioral modification and assessment.
The following are examples of expanses in which these beneficial approaches are used.
Chronic Headache Management: The treatment of chronic headache commences with an assessment of psychological, physical and behavioral factors which contribute to headache occurrence. Management and treatment of the headache follows a multidimensional method which actively encompasses the patient in his or her own treatment. Treatment focuses on managing and controlling factors known by assessment which contribute to the headache. These often include diminishing tension through increasing peripheral blood flow and/or relaxation training through autogenic and relaxation training in the treatment of migraines.
Chronic Pain Management: The management of pain that has not rejoined to traditional surgical or medical interventions needs a multidimensional approach. First in the primary evaluation factors which can contribute to the chronic pain such as tension, stress, anxiety, mood, daily activities and medication are inspected. The treatment program is then tailored to the patient’s individual symptoms and needs. Specific elements of the program may include improving sleep, stress management, decreasing muscle tension and increasing activity level through biofeedback training.
Anxiety Disorders: Many individuals have difficulty controlling anxiety due to episodes of panic, specific fears, intrusive and uncontrollable thoughts and formalized behavior. Through the use of recreation techniques, systematic and gradual confrontation of their fears and cognitive therapy to modify anxiety producing thought patterns, the client and therapist can often make speedy progress and greatly improve functioning.
According to Dr. Curtis Cripe, in order to determine which patients will be most likely to benefit from this treatment, comprehensive evaluation is necessary. Many supplementary medical problems with psychological constituents may be properly treated through behavioral medicine.