What is Cognitive Remediation Therapy?
Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) 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). CRT, an evidence-based behavioral treatment, is used for those experiencing cognitive deficiencies that interfere with day-to-day functioning.
Treatment for cognitive remediation is typically 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 had a traumatic brain injury, such as a stroke, brain tumor, or concussion, and those who have mental impairment as a result of depression or schizophrenia. Psychiatric disabilities and illnesses can cause cognitive issues and problems with attention, memory and problem solving skills. In addition, CRT is used to help people with learning disabilities, ADHD, and early stage dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
This type of treatment does not reverse a cognitive disability, but it can help to teach the patient strategies to cope with their issues and improve memory skills, such as organizing daily tasks. For patients with milder deficits, CRT teaches ways to compensate for their memory or cognitive issues.
Cognition refers to the act of thinking and includes the ability to choose, process, remember and understand information. Therefore, CRT is also beneficial after a person has suffered a traumatic brain injury. For example, after 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 often get damaged due to 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 with planning and memory. They cannot efficiently manage their time and have difficulty planning for the future. They also have trouble remembering tasks like taking the trash or going to doctor’s appointments. A cognitive therapist may also recommend that a patient use a planner to write down each thing they have to do that day, week, and month so that they can refer to the planner regularly and better plan their time and remember their tasks. Over time, this should help the patient slowly regain their planning and memory skills.
Some successful methods used in cognitive treatment include creating routines, specifically, having the patient learn to set up and establish them. Building routines promote procedural learning. This way, people can learn to follow through in their cognitive functioning to the highest degree possible.
How CRT Helps
CRT gives patients confidence in themselves and in their cognitive skills. In some cases, CRT helps patients stay in school, get a job, or do better in their current roles. Improvement also shows in the patient’s ability to interact socially. This type of therapy can enrich each patient’s personal and work lives. Finally, CRT programs improve the patient’s chances of living independently, achieving goals of finishing school, working, socializing, and managing their home life.