The practice of medicine has general clinical practitioners (eg. Family Practice, Internal Medicine), many different specialties (eg. Cardiology, Psychiatry, etc.) and also sub-specialties (eg. Cardiac Electrophysiology). Likewise, the actual practice of clinical psychology contains similar distinctions in areas of expertise and range of practice. Behavioral Sleep Medicine might, then, most easily be described as the sub-specialty within the specialty of clinical health psychology and the more-general clinical psychology. Psychologists with training within the sub-specialty of Behavioral Sleep Medicine have completed internships or have been (or are currently) in post-doctoral fellowship programs in that specific field.
The health of our sleep and waking life is the result of a complex interaction of psychological, physiological, sociological and behavioral factors. Behavioral Sleep Medicine practitioners use their specialized training in clinical psychology, health psychology and sleep medicine to thoroughly evaluate each of these factors as they relate to sleep and wake functioning. The careful assessment of the critical components that may be interfering with each individual patient’s clinical presentation is critical to treatment success.
We understand that each patient has a distinct combination of factors that are contributing to their sleep problem and that means that each patient receives a unique treatment plan to effectively treat their presenting problem. It is precisely the fact that treatment is “tailor-suited” to each individual patient that makes therapy so effective for our patients.
Behavioral sleep specialists use scientifically-based treatments that most often use both behavioral and cognitive techniques. Together, these interventions are referred to as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The various cognitive-behavioral therapies used for treating sleep disorders differ quite substantially from CBT therapeutic techniques used in the treatment of disorders such as depression and/or anxiety. When this category of empirically-supported treatments is used to specifically treat insomnia they are referred to as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I).