Treatments for abnormality vary depending on individual preference, severity of the disorder and symptoms, and research regarding what therapies work best for certain disorders. The areas of treatment for abnormality include biological treatments and therapies including psychological and interpersonal and social approaches.
Biological treatments not only include medications, such as antidepressants and anxiolytics, which are often prescribed for treating depression and anxiety, but also more invasive methods such as electroconvulsive therapy, psychosurgery, and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Often the more invasive techniques are used for depression but only in the most severe of cases and when drug therapies are not effective.
Among the psychological therapies, techniques include psychodynamic therapy, humanistic therapy, behavior therapy, and cognitive therapy. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unveiling the unconscious thoughts and feelings of the person and humanistic therapy is a very person-centered approach which focuses on helping the client reach self-actualization and a better sense of self through techniques such as role-playing, which is commonly done in Gestalt therapy.
Behavior therapy, on the other hand, revolves around examining an individual's behavior and using techniques such as classical and operant conditioning to teach the person new responses to certain stimuli in order to achieve the desired behavior. Cognitive development is similar in that the negative cognitive pattern is identified and then the client and therapist work together to stop those cognitive distortions. Both of these therapies are often used in combination, called cognitive-behavior therapy, in which the treatment focuses on helping the individual understand how their thoughts influence their behavior and vice versa.
However, it is well known that biological treatments often aren't fully effective on their own. In fact, most research states that each of the treatment techniques tend to be equally effective, however combinations of medication and therapy tend to give more long-lasting or stable results¹. Therefore, it is not uncommon for someone to be prescribed a drug therapy while also continuing with therapy.
Lastly, interpersonal and social approaches of treatmening abnormality include interpersonal therapy, family systems therapy, group therapy, and community treatment. As the names suggest, these therapies focus on treating the individual in the context of others, such as taking into consideration the family in treatment or helping support others in their treatment through group therapy.
One conflict when treating abnormality comes with the treatment of children. It is often unknown what effects medications may have over the long term on children and adolescents, so the prescription of antidepressants, for example, for a child remains controversial. However, studies do continue in this area, and different therapeutic approaches specifically aimed for children have been developed.
1. Hollon, S. D., Jarrett, R. B., Nierenberg, A. A., Thase, M. E., Trivedi, M., & Rush, A. J. Psychotherapy and medication in the treatment of adult and geriatric depression: which monotherapy or combined treatment? The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 66(4), 455-468.