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Tuesday, 03 September 2019

How CBT Group Therapists Can Save Time and Effort

cbt group therapy

Research suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective in treating a broad array of conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, relationship problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. CBT has also been used with patients experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, and opioid addiction. Research suggests that CBT can be at least as effective in producing significant improvement in functioning and quality of life as other forms of therapy or psychiatric medications, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

Practitioners of CBT believe that psychological problems are based, at least partly, on unhelpful ways of thinking and learned patterns of unproductive behavior. This form of treatment involves efforts to change patients’ thinking patterns so they can relieve symptoms and better cope with life. The typical first step is to identify and challenge “automatic thoughts” that are irrational and dysfunctional.

While CBT is often conducted individually, therapists have long applied the principles in a group setting. The rationale for CBT group therapy is the same as the logic underlying group treatments more generally: many clients find it easier to accept treatment, learn strategies, and explore options if they interact with others who share their same experience.

The cost-effectiveness of group treatments is also appealing to agency administrators because they can bill for perhaps 8-10 clients per hour rather than just one. However, many managers soon learn about the hidden costs of group treatment in terms of time and resources. That hour of group treatment can involve all sorts of time scheduling appointments, writing progress notes, and billing (which can be complex) for all those clients. The logistics can be fearsome for agencies without an EHR infrastructure designed to handle group treatment.

Managing group therapy appointments requires an EHR that’s efficient and agile in scheduling, charting, billing, and tracking group activities. The EHR must be able to track individuals’ progress correctly and handle complex billing to ensure payment. CBT group therapy can add even more wrinkles to the system. Some group therapy patients may also participate in individual therapy and/or take prescription medication that requires attentive record keeping. Group sessions may be co-led, and individuals’ treatment plans often include multiple practitioners, perhaps at different sites.

ClinicTracker can simplify life for therapists or counselors leading CBT groups. Intuitive, customizable tools make it easy, beginning with intake forms, which the patient can fill out via the Patient Portal, ahead of the first session. That also allows you to deal with insurance authorizations before the group meets.

Our system excels at handling the intricacies of group appointments. Perhaps the substance abuse group meets Tuesdays 2 to 4 p.m. and the PTSD group meets Thursdays 2 to 4 p.m. You can configure ClinicTracker to schedule clients assigned to a specific group at a specific time. Maybe some patients attend more than one group. No problem. Our software lets you schedule a collection of groups for individual clients.

You can also track all the details that may differ by contract or insurer. That includes the start/end dates and maximum group size. You can also manage waiting lists.

ClinicTracker’s features can eliminate scheduling headaches typical of group therapy. Our EHR will add everyone in the group to the session and remind everyone about the session. You can easily schedule and track recurring sessions. You can even add new group members to future-scheduled sessions.

Progress notes can be a real time commitment when you’re dealing with more than one person at a time, let alone a group of 15. But there’s no need to write separate progress notes for each group attendee. ClinicTracker streamlines the process and gives you a chance to personalize each note. You start with a note common to all group members and then, on the same screen, add individualized comments. The same form allows you to collect patient signatures for proof of attendance. And you can personalize the form just the way you need it, using pre-stored note templates (like DAP or SOAP) or ones that you designed yourself. The forms also make it easy for the clinician, and when required, supervisor, to sign the notes.

Mental health and substance abuse group therapy interventions require and generate a lot of data. ClinicTracker helps you manage it with both pre-stored and custom reporting for your groups. You can track attendance, participation, progress, and more. Click a button to see waiting lists, attendance reports by group or patient, enrollment lists, and much more.

Group therapy is effective for treating a growing number of diagnoses. Keep track of the details with ClinicTracker.

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