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Behavioral activation (BA)

BA is both a component of cognitive behavioral therapy and a treatment by itself.1 It focuses on the way events in a patient’s life can contribute to the mental illness and how the patient responds to those events.2 BA helps the patient to address the inactivity, withdrawal, and inertia that are associated depressive disorders, and work toward learning more positive patterns of behavior.2 It also helps with restoring disrupted routines related to daily functioning, such as eating and sleeping.2 While a full treatment course of BA consists of 20–24 sessions, an abbreviated version with 8–15 sessions is available.3
Description: BA is both a component of cognitive behavioral therapy and a treatment by itself.1 It focuses on the way events in a patient’s life can contribute to the mental illness and how the patient responds to those events.2 BA helps the patient to address the inactivity, withdrawal, and inertia that are associated depressive disorders, and work toward learning more positive patterns of behavior.2 It also helps with restoring disrupted routines related to daily functioning, such as eating and sleeping.2 While a full treatment course of BA consists of 20–24 sessions, an abbreviated version with 8–15 sessions is available.3
Potentially effective for the following mental health concerns: Depressive disorders
Potentially effective in the following age groups: Adult, Geriatric
Treatment setting options: Individual, Group
Treatment format options: In-person, Telephone, Online
Typical treatment duration: < 10 sessions, 10-20 sessions, 20+ sessions
Potential limitations: BA has few limitations, and it has been shown to be effective, low-cost, and easy to implement by inexperienced providers.5,6

Footnotes:

Supporting references for the filters are as follows: Potentially effective for the following mental health concerns: Depressive disorders1,4; Potentially effective in the following age groups: Adult4, Geriatric5; Treatment setting options: Individual2, Group5; Treatment format options: In-person5, Telephone4, Online4,5; Typical treatment duration: < 10 sessions, 10–20 sessions, 20+ sessions3

References:

  1. Dobson, KS et al. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2008;76(3):468-477.
  2. Jacobson, NS et al. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. 2001;8(3):255-270.
  3. Hershenberg, R & Goldstein, S. Treatment: Behavioral Activation for Depression. Diagnosis: Depression. 2015. https://www.div12.org/treatment/behavioral-activation-for-depression/. Accessed March 2, 2020.
  4. Parikh, SV et al. Can J Psychiatry. 2016;61(9):524-539.
  5. Ekers, D et al. PLoS One. 2014;9(6):e100100.
  6. Richards, DA et al. The Lancet. 2016;388(10047):871-880.

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