Nurses Integrate Cognitive Therapy Treatment Into Primary Care: Description and Clinical Application of a Pilot Program

Judith S. Beck, PhD; Christine Reilly, PhD, RN


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2006;6(3) 

In This Article


Advanced practice nurses (APNs) completed a 2-year pilot program to integrate mental health services in primary care among indigent populations. These nurses learned the basics of cognitive therapy, an empirically supported psychotherapeutic treatment, to care for their patients with symptoms of depression and other psychiatric disorders. This article describes the initial pilot program, its goals, and results; it also gives an overview of the related programs that have since been developed.

In this initial pilot program, 12 APNs received 2 years of training in cognitive therapy theory and treatment. The program was designed to teach nurses to incorporate cognitive and behavioral techniques into their practice to address the mental and behavioral health needs of their patients. Although training initially focused on treating patients with depressive symptoms, it was subsequently expanded to include a range of behavioral health problems and psychiatric symptoms. Results indicated that nurses improved their understanding of cognitive therapy, were able to use a variety of cognitive and behavioral techniques during primary care visits, and increased their effectiveness with patients.[1]


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