What is Cognitive Remediation Therapy?

Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT), also called cognitive enhancement therapy (CET), is the assessment and treatment of cognitive skills, including memory, attention and executive functioning (planning, sequencing, organizing, initiating, problem solving, decision making and self-awareness). Cognitive remediation, an evidence-based behavioral treatment, is used for those experiencing cognitive deficiencies that interfere with day-to-day functioning.

Treatment for cognitive remediation is usually provided by a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or rehabilitation psychologist with specialized training in health psychology and rehabilitative techniques.

Uses for Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive remediation is used to treat people who have sustained traumatic brain injury, such as a stroke, brain tumor, or concussion, as well as those who have cognitive impairment as a result of a generalized condition like depression or schizophrenia. Psychiatric disorders and illnesses can cause cognitive issues and problems with attention, memory and problem solving skills. In addition cognitive remediation therapy used to help people with learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and early stage dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

This type of treatment does not reverse a cognitive disorder, but it can help to teach the patient effective strategies to cope with their cognitive issues and enhance memory skills, such as organizing daily tasks. For patients with milder cognitive deficits, cognitive remediation therapy teaches ways to compensate for their memory or cognitive issues.

Cognition itself refers to the act of thinking. Included in this are our cognitive functions, including the ability to choose, process, remember and understand information. Therefore, cognitive remediation therapy is very useful and valuable after a person has suffered a traumatic brain injury as well. After suffering from a brain injury, cognitive symptoms can include problems with language, communication, speech, cognitive functioning, executive functioning, memory, planning, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, judgment, attention, concentration, planning, organizing, assembling, controlling impulses, and being patient. Cognitive therapists can work with patients to help them regain these cognitive functions that are often damaged as a result of a traumatic brain injury.

An example of cognitive remediation therapy for a patient with a brain injury: A patient with a brain injury comes to a cognitive therapist because they are having trouble specifically with planning and memory. They cannot efficiently manage their time and have a difficult time planning for the future. They also are having trouble remembering various necessary tasks, such as, for example, taking the trash out each week, or appointments, perhaps such as doctors appointments. A cognitive therapist may recommend that the patient use a planner (electronically or hard-copy), and write down each thing that they have to do that day, week, and month, so that they can refer to the planner regularly so that they can better plan their time and remember what they need to do each week. Over time, this should help the individual to slowly regain their planning and memory skills.

Some successful methods that can sometimes be brought into cognitive treatment is the implementation of routines, specifically, having the patient learn to set up and establish them. This promotes proceduralized learning, also know as, root learning. This way, people can learn to follow through in their cognitive functioning to the highest degree possible.

How CRT Helps

Cognitive Remediation Therapy give patients greater confidence in themselves as well as in their cognitive skills. In some cases, CRT enables helps patients stay in school, get job, or do better in their current role. Improvement is also shown in the patients ability to interact in socially, participate in social settings. This type of therapy can enrich the personal and work lives of those receiving this treatment. CRT programs improves the patients chances of functioning independently, achieving goals of finishing school, working, socializing and managing their home life.

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Within each person shines an inner light that illuminates our path and is the source of hope. Illness, trauma, suffering and grief can diminish the light and shroud hope. I am a catalyst for hope and change, offering a way to rekindle this inner light.

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