To many, the crippling of the immune system is only half the problem with HIV/AIDS. Left over from the early days of mystery, a strong stigma still surrounds the disease. Additionally, HIV/AIDS used to be thought of as a “death sentence,” which causes fear initially in many HIV-infected people.
Many times a trained counselor is required to convey a positive result of a test or confirm it. The shock of having HIV, coupled with the perpetual reminder of being infected through the constant taking of antiretrovirals, have caused many to seek refuge in drugs or suicide. One study found that the majority of non-AIDS related deaths were due to drug abuse and depression.
There are many methods of psychotherapy. Some believe that there may be over 400 different approaches to treatment!
One method is insight therapy, based on traditional Freud psychoanalytical theory. It is the stereotypical talking between a client and a therapist. The therapist works to develop client insight into the nature of the problem and to work towards a possible solution. This can be done in groups or individually. Clients usually invest large amounts of time, effort, and money.
Another method is behavior therapy. These therapies are based on the principles of learning. Behavior therapists work to directly alter problematic responses through classical conditioning, operant conditioning, or observational learning. Classical conditioning is when a conditioned stimulus elicits the same response as for an unconditioned stimulus. For example, if a dog salivates every time it sees food and you ring a bell simultaneously, eventually the dog will salivate every time it just hears the bell. Operant conditioning are based on the principles of punishment and reward, which are self-explanatory. Observational learning, as its name implies, is based on the observations of another.
Lastly, biomedical therapies are treatments that interact with an individual's biological functions. This commonly is done either through drugs or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or shock. Examples include antidepressants, antipsychotic, and antianxiety drugs. ECT is a controversial method of treatment in which a patient is exposed to a brief electric shock.
For more information for HIV-infected people seeking psychotherapy, visit http://www.projinf.org/fs/depression.html#therapist .
"Depression and Substance Abuse Increase Mortality in HIV-Infected Women." 08 June 2002. Reuters Limited. 04 Feb. 2004 <http://www.aidsmeds.com/news/20020806epid006.html>.
Weiten, Wayne. Psychology: Themes & Variations . Belmont: Thomsom Learning, Inc., 2002.
Kazdin, A.E. (1994). Methodology, design, and evaluation in psychotherapy research. In A.E. Bergin & S.L. Garfield (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change (4 th edi.). New York: Wiley.