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Job Hunting? Maybe a Therapist Can Help

MONDAY, June 20, 2016 -- The unemployed may find help for their job search in an unexpected place -- a therapist's office.

A type of counseling called cognitive behavioral therapy teaches skills that might help people who are unemployed get a job, a new study suggests.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to help people with depression. This type of therapy teaches people to identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.

"Searching for a job is difficult in any circumstance, but it may be even more difficult for people who are depressed," said study co-author Daniel Strunk, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

"But we found that there are specific skills that can help not only manage the symptoms of depression but also make it more likely that a person will receive a job offer," Strunk said in a university news release.

The study included 75 unemployed people. They were between the ages of 20 and 67. About one-third had symptoms indicating moderate to severe depression. The other two-thirds had mild or no depression.

Over three months, those participants who reported greater use of CBT-type skills, such as countering their own negative thoughts, were more likely to have improvements in depression symptoms. They were also more likely to have received a job offer, the study found.

"The people who got jobs in our study were more likely to be putting into practice the skills that we try to teach people in cognitive therapy," Strunk said.

Many unemployed people get discouraged as they look work. While the study only found an association, these findings suggest a way that job seekers -- particularly those who are depressed -- might improve their chances of success, researchers said.

"Using cognitive behavioral skills, people can overcome some of the negative thinking that may be holding them back and making it less likely to succeed in their job search," Strunk said.

The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

More information

The National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists has more on cognitive behavioral therapy.

Posted: June 2016


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