Then, we’ll turn to specific evidence-based treatments for depression, insomnia (sleep difficulty), substance use problems, chronic pain, or relationship distress.

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Let's learn about Proven Treatments

Evidence-Based Psychotherapies: Proven Treatments for Veterans

We all have life struggles that can weigh us down. Sometimes we can overcome them on our own, but sometimes we get stuck. Now, there are proven “talk” therapies, or counseling treatments, called “evidence-based psychotherapies” (or “E-B-Ps”). EBPs are effective for issues like depression, insomnia (sleep difficulty), substance use problems, chronic pain, relationship distress, and other “invisible wounds.”

Check out this short video to learn more about these proven treatments!

Proven treatments are now available for depression, insomnia (sleep difficulty), PTSD, substance use problems, chronic pain, relationship distress, and more.

Proven treatments provide powerful skills for overcoming problems and living life.

Proven treatments are effective with Veterans of all ages.

Proven treatments work in a short amount of time and have lasting benefits.

Brief History of Mental Health Treatment

Mental health treatment has come a long way over the years – from very crude methods to scientifically proven treatments now available. Take a journey through a brief history of mental health treatment below!

ancient tablet with text

Ancient Times

It is widely believed that mental health problems are supernatural events caused by evil spirits.

ancient sculpture bust

400s BCE

The Greek physician, Hippocrates, believes mental illness is caused by “humors,” or body fluids, that become unbalanced. Treatment involves removing one of these fluids to balance them.

two hands indicating empathy

900s AD

The Muslim physician, Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi, introduces the concept of mental health and the idea that mental illness can have both psychological and/or biological causes. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on the health of the body and soul and criticizes medical doctors for paying too much attention to physical illness. Around this same time, the Persian physician, Abu Bakr Mohammed ibn Zakariya al-Razi, introduces the importance of treating patients with respect and kindness.

institutional building

1400s – early 1900s AD

Over time, societies come to view mental illnesses as long-lasting, chronic problems. Inpatient mental health facilities are built to house persons with mental illness.

Late 1800s - early 1900s

With limited treatments available, early attempts at brain surgery, such as the "lobotomy," are introduced to treat certain mental health conditions. The lobotomy is ended or prohibited in numerous countries beginning in the mid-1900s.

Early 1900s

Sigmund Freud spreads the idea that mental illness can be treated. He develops the first type of “talk” therapy, known as “psychoanalysis.” This treatment is based on the idea that unconscious thoughts and memories contribute to mental health problems. Treatment focuses on early childhood experiences and on the interpretation of dreams as a window to the unconscious mind.

pills and pill boxes

1940s –1950s

Medications become available to help symptoms of certain mental health problems. During this time, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which involves sending small electric currents through the brain, is introduced as a treatment for very severe mental health conditions.

therapist and veteran in chairs talking

1960s –1970s

New kinds of talk therapies, or “psychotherapies,” become available. Unlike earlier talk therapies, these treatments mostly focus on the present, rather than early life experiences and dreams.

For example, Behavior Therapy focuses on how our actions, or how we spend our time, affect our emotions. Cognitive Therapy focuses on how our thoughts affect our mood. Interpersonal Psychotherapy focuses on how relationships affect how we feel.

wheel infographic

1980s –1990s

The talk therapies, Cognitive Therapy and Behavior Therapy (see 1960s-1970s), are combined to form Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or “C-B-T”). CBT focuses on changing thoughts and behaviors that affect how we feel. Also during this time, a new type of medication for depression, called “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs),” becomes available. These include medications like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil.


Research on the talk therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT; see 1980s-1990s), explodes. Studies show CBT is effective for many different mental health problems, including depression, PTSD, insomnia, and substance use conditions. Talk therapies, like CBT, that are effective in multiple studies are called “evidence-based psychotherapies.”

2000s - Present

To make proven talk therapies, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT; see 1990s-2000s), available to Veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) trains more than 10,000 VA providers in how to deliver these treatments. Health care systems in other countries, including Great Britain and Australia, also train large numbers of providers to deliver these therapies.


Many Veterans who receive proven talk therapies, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (see 1980s-1990s), show real improvements! Yet, many Veterans do not know they exist. This website is created as a public resource to spread the word so that more Vets know their options and ask for these treatments!