Mental Illness Theory-Based Treatment

Subject: Psychology
Pages: 5
Words: 1378
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: Master


Mental illness in adults is a significant life-altering burden that affects not only the individuals diagnosed with an issue but also their families. A range of psychological concerns from mild to severe impairs human social life, physical health, overall well-being, functioning in the workplace, and might lead to unfavorable long-term consequences. For that matter, it is essential to be aware of the treatment options, their effect on mental health, and how one should manage their illness to endure healthy and happy life. Some of the most renowned and best evidence-informed theories of mental health treatment are cognitive behavioral theory, which entails the change in patterns of emotional reactions, thoughts, and behaviors, and gestalt theory based on the influence of environment on perception. This document presents an overview of cognitive behavioral theory and gestalt theory used for adults’ mental health treatment. It is designed to inform individuals diagnosed with mental issues about the benefits and multifaceted implications of cognitive behavioral therapy and gestalt therapy.

Problem Statement: Mental Illnesses in Adult Population

The issue addressed in this white paper is mental illnesses and the ways of their management by individuals with diagnoses and their family members. The abundance of mental diseases in the adult population implies a multitude of manifestations and severity of symptoms that might require either minor therapeutic involvement or full inpatient treatment. The importance of delivering possible solutions to the problem of handling mental illness is validated by the prevalence of under-addressed concerns that impair the everyday life of patients and people from their immediate environment. These individuals must obtain comprehensive educational information about the effective ways of treatment that are proven to yield the best results. Moreover, it is the responsibility of social workers to distribute such information to raise awareness and contribute to the public’s knowledge of possible interventions.

Proposed Solution

Cognitive Behavioral Theory

Among the many theory-based mental health treatment interventions, the cognitive behavioral theory is one of the most widely used and evidence-confirmed. The origin of the theory is related to the merging of two theories since it is “based on a combination of the basic principles of behavioral and cognitive psychology” (Sun et al., 2019, p. 2). It is a long-term treatment that aims at restructuring individuals’ ways of experiencing emotions and behaviors through the analysis of thought patterns. Indeed, the basic tenets of cognitive behavioral theory are the focus on problem and goal orientation, active involvement of both therapist and client and the connection between cognition and behavior as a method of achieving healing effects. Indeed, this theory might be defined as “a time-limited, multi-session intervention that targets cognitive, affective, and environmental risks” for mental health issues (Magill et al., 2019, p. 1094). It is implemented as a ‘sit-down’ treatment which can be conducted individually or in groups, as well as independently. For example, a client might engage in a thought record or journaling as a method of treatment that does not require a counselor (King, 2021).

The skills that might be important for a social worker to deliver mental health treatment within the framework of this intervention include active listening, empathy, critical thinking, managing client resistance, and the ability to build rapport. Specifically, the cognitive behavioral theory is most effectively used when applied to cases of drug and alcohol addiction, panic, anxiety, depression, psychosis, and anger. The effectiveness of using this intervention for anxiety and depression has been supported by Sun et al. (2019), who found positive recovery rates among breast cancer patients experiencing these mental health issues. Furthermore, the benefits of using a cognitive behavioral approach to managing alcohol and drug abuse were addressed by research conducted by Magill et al. (2019), who presented compelling results of a meta-analysis. Finally, anger regulation has been particularly effective in patients subject to cognitive behavioral interventions (King, 2021). The results of these research studies have been successfully translated into treatment by expanding the scope of eligible patients to be treated according to this approach and by specifically using a variety of interventions within the theory.

In terms of social justice and human rights, cognitive behavioral theory-based treatment is designed to advance human rights by advancing empowerment and self-awareness. This type of treatment is best applicable to illnesses associated with behavioral impairment of social or self-involved nature. As it has been stated above, the issues of emotion control, addiction, depression, stress, and anxiety can be effectively addressed using cognitive restructuring, guided discovery, thought record, and other techniques used by social workers employing cognitive behavioral theory (King, 2021; Magill et al., 2019; Sun et al., 2019). However, there exist some cultural limitations to cognitive behavioral treatment. In particular, the language barrier between a client and a social worker might lead to misunderstandings during ‘sit down’ sessions. Moreover, since the theory is particularly involved with behavioral change, it might be an issue of conflict when there is a lack of cultural sensitivity toward some traditional or customary behaviors.

Gestalt Theory

Another important, effective, and evidence-based treatment of mental illness is the gestalt theory which is based on the assessment of the person’s environment in the present time to resolve current psychological issues. It is a patient-centered, “relationship-centered approach in which the therapist’s attention is essentially focused on the client’s relationships” (Bohm, 2021, p. 73). It has emerged and evolved as a unique and independent intervention of mental illness treatment, which implies no other theory of origin (Bohm, 2021). However, according to Unubol and Topaloglu (2020), it was “shaped by various theories and opinions such as humanist approach, existential approach, phenomenological approach, holistic view, field theory, and Far Eastern philosophy” (p. 2). Thus, as a humanistic theory, gestalt interventions place an individual and his or her present state at the top of the list of issues. It might be applied as both a long-term and short-term, problem-focused approach to mental illness treatment.

It is implemented as an experience-based therapy that can be conducted individually and in groups. The skills necessary for a social worker to provide treatment using Gestalt theory include the ability to build trusting relationships, leadership skills to guide the clients, problem-solving, re-enacting situations, and effective decision-making. Some of the mental illnesses that are best treated using Gestalt theory include obsessive-compulsive disorder, self-esteem issues, and crises of lifespan development. Indeed, Unubol and Topaloglu (2020) found that gestalt therapy yields positive recovery outcomes for patients with the obsessive-compulsive disorder through the control of symptoms and improving relapse management through the use of retroflection, deflection, and contact. Similarly, Bohm (2021) stated that gestalt therapy is particularly beneficial for managing crises throughout different stages of human development. This theory-based intervention is concerned with extending human freedom, self-awareness, and well-being, which constitute a core of social justice and human rights advancement.

As informed by evidence-based research, gestalt theory is best applicable to relationship-related mental health issues, developmental crises, and challenges in behavioral responses to current experiences. Some cultural barriers might obstruct the effectiveness of gestalt therapy implementation due to the differences in the interpretation of emotion and interaction. Indeed, since gestalt interventions involve much interaction, possibly uncomfortable interaction, confrontation, and emotional analysis, some clients from different cultural backgrounds that the social worker might be reluctant to build relationships. Finally, within the context of both, cognitive behavioral and gestalt theories, the influence of stigma on mental health issues is observed. Indeed, people attending therapy might be perceived as troubled or unstable, which impairs their social life, career opportunities, and family functioning. However, it is important to raise awareness about mental health importance among all populations to ensure the safe and comfortable life of all individuals.


In summation, the educational information delivered to the readers in this document contains the validation of such evidence-based interventions as cognitive behavioral therapy and gestalt therapy. Both theories provide a substantial theoretical basis for practical interventions for addressing a variety of mental illnesses. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy most effectively addresses depression, anxiety, addiction, anger, and other disorders, while gestalt therapy is best applied to crises, obsessive-compulsive disorder, self-esteem issues, and other behavioral impairments. The use of social justice, cultural sensitivity, and intervention process information allows for the dissemination of educational information among the adult population to establish proper management of illnesses and support provided to people with diagnoses to reduce stigma.


Bohm, A. (2021). Basic principles for therapeutic relationship and practice in gestalt theoretical psychotherapy. Gestalt Theory, 43(1), 69-86.

King, A. M. (2021). Using the thought record for anger reduction in cognitive behavioral therapy. (Doctoral dissertation) The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Web.

Magill, M., Ray, L., Kiluk, B., Hoadley, A., Bernstein, M., Tonigan, J. S., & Carroll, K. (2019). A meta-analysis of cognitive-behavioral therapy for alcohol or other drug use disorders: Treatment efficacy by contrast condition. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 87(12), 1093-1105.

Sun, H., Huang, H., Ji, S., Chen, X., Xu, Y., Zhu, F., & Wu, J. (2019). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy to treat depression and anxiety and improve quality of life among early-stage breast cancer patients. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 18(1), 1-9.

Unubol, H., & Topaloglu, M. (2020). Gestalt contact styles in OCD patients: A controlled study. Archives of Clinical Psychiatry, 47, 1-6. Web.