What is Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy?

Introduction

Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT), previously called rational therapy and rational emotive therapy, is an active-directive, philosophically and empirically based psychotherapy, the aim of which is to resolve emotional and behavioural problems and disturbances and to help people to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

REBT posits that people have erroneous beliefs about situations they are involved in, and that these beliefs cause disturbance, but can be disputed with and changed.

Brief History

Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) was created and developed by the American psychotherapist and psychologist Albert Ellis, who was inspired by many of the teachings of Asian, Greek, Roman and modern philosophers. REBT is the first form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and was first expounded by Ellis in the mid-1950s; development continued until his death in 2007. Ellis became synonymous with the highly influential therapy. Psychology Today noted, “No individual—not even Freud himself—has had a greater impact on modern psychotherapy.”

REBT is both a psychotherapeutic system of theory and practices and a school of thought established by Ellis. He first presented his ideas at a conference of the American Psychological Association in 1956 then published a seminal article in 1957 entitled “Rational psychotherapy and individual psychology”, in which he set the foundation for what he was calling rational therapy (RT) and carefully responded to questions from Rudolf Dreikurs and others about the similarities and differences with Alfred Adler’s Individual psychology. This was around a decade before psychiatrist Aaron Beck first set forth his “cognitive therapy”, after Ellis had contacted him in the mid 1960s. Ellis’ own approach was renamed Rational Emotive Therapy in 1959, then the current term in 1992.

Precursors of certain fundamental aspects of rational emotive behaviour therapy have been identified in ancient philosophical traditions, particularly to Stoicists Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Zeno of Citium, Chrysippus, Panaetius of Rhodes, Cicero, and Seneca, and early Asian philosophers Confucius and Gautama Buddha. In his first major book on rational therapy, Ellis wrote that the central principle of his approach, that people are rarely emotionally affected by external events but rather by their thinking about such events, “was originally discovered and stated by the ancient Stoic philosophers”. Ellis illustrates this with a quote from the Enchiridion of Epictetus: “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them.” Ellis noted that Shakespeare expressed a similar thought in Hamlet: “There’s nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Ellis also acknowledges early 20th century therapists, particularly Paul Charles Dubois, though he only read his work several years after developing his therapy.

Theoretical Assumptions

The REBT framework posits that humans have both innate rational (meaning self-helping, socially helping, and constructive) and irrational (meaning self-defeating, socially defeating, and unhelpful) tendencies and leanings. REBT claims that people to a large degree consciously and unconsciously construct emotional difficulties such as self-blame, self-pity, clinical anger, hurt, guilt, shame, depression and anxiety, and behaviours and behaviour tendencies like procrastination, compulsiveness, avoidance, addiction and withdrawal by the means of their irrational and self-defeating thinking, emoting and behaving.

REBT is then applied as an educational process in which the therapist often active-directively teaches the client how to identify irrational and self-defeating beliefs and philosophies which in nature are rigid, extreme, unrealistic, illogical and absolutist, and then to forcefully and actively question and dispute them and replace them with more rational and self-helping ones. By using different cognitive, emotive and behavioural methods and activities, the client, together with help from the therapist and in homework exercises, can gain a more rational, self-helping and constructive rational way of thinking, emoting and behaving.

One of the main objectives in REBT is to show the client that whenever unpleasant and unfortunate activating events occur in people’s lives, they have a choice between making themselves feel healthily or, self-helpingly, sorry, disappointed, frustrated, and annoyed or making themselves feel unhealthily and self-defeatingly horrified, terrified, panicked, depressed, self-hating and self-pitying. By attaining and ingraining a more rational and self-constructive philosophy of themselves, others and the world, people often are more likely to behave and emote in more life-serving and adaptive ways.

Beliefs about Circumstances, and Disputing the Beliefs

A fundamental premise of REBT is humans do not get emotionally disturbed by unfortunate circumstances, but by how they construct their views of these circumstances through their language, evaluative beliefs, meanings and philosophies about the world, themselves and others. This concept has been attributed as far back as the Roman philosopher Epictetus, who is often cited as utilising similar ideas in antiquity.

In REBT, clients usually learn and begin to apply this premise by learning the A-B-C-D-E-F model of psychological disturbance and change. The following letters represent the following meanings in this model:

  • A – The adversity.
  • B – The developed belief in the person of the Adversity.
  • C – The consequences of that person’s Beliefs i.e., B.
  • D – The person’s disputes of A, B, and C. In latter thought.
  • E – The effective new philosophy or belief that develops in that person through the occurrence of D in their minds of A and B.
  • F – The developed feelings of one’s self either at point and after point C or at point after point E.

The A-B-C model states that it is not an A, adversity (or activating event) that cause disturbed and dysfunctional emotional and behavioural Cs, consequences, but also what people B, irrationally believe about the A, adversity. A, adversity can be an external situation, or a thought, a feeling or other kind of internal event, and it can refer to an event in the past, present, or future.

The Bs, irrational beliefs that are most important in the A-B-C model are explicit and implicit philosophical meanings and assumptions about events, personal desires, and preferences. The Bs, beliefs that are most significant are highly evaluative and consist of interrelated and integrated cognitive, emotional and behavioural aspects and dimensions. According to REBT, if a person’s evaluative B, belief about the A, activating event is rigid, absolutistic, fictional and dysfunctional, the C, the emotional and behavioural consequence, is likely to be self-defeating and destructive. Alternatively, if a person’s belief is preferential, flexible and constructive, the C, the emotional and behavioural consequence is likely to be self-helping and constructive.

Through REBT, by understanding the role of their mediating, evaluative and philosophically based illogical, unrealistic and self-defeating meanings, interpretations and assumptions in disturbance, individuals can learn to identify them, then go to D, disputing and questioning the evidence for them. At E, effective new philosophy, they can recognise and reinforce the notion no evidence exists for any psychopathological must, ought or should and distinguish them from healthy constructs, and subscribe to more constructive and self-helping philosophies. This new reasonable perspective leads to F, new feelings and behaviours appropriate to the A they are addressing in the exercise.

Psychological Dysfunction

One of the main pillars of REBT is that irrational and dysfunctional ways and patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving are contributing to human disturbance and emotional and behavioural self-defeatism and social defeatism. REBT generally teaches that when people turn flexible preferences, desires and wishes into grandiose, absolutistic and fatalistic dictates, this tends to contribute to disturbance and upset. These dysfunctional patterns are examples of cognitive distortions.

Core Beliefs that Disturb Humans

Albert Ellis has suggested three core beliefs or philosophies that humans tend to disturb themselves through:

“I absolutely MUST, under practically all conditions and at all times, perform well (or outstandingly well) and win the approval (or complete love) of significant others. If I fail in these important—and sacred—respects, that is awful and I am a bad, incompetent, unworthy person, who will probably always fail and deserves to suffer.”“Other people with whom I relate or associate, absolutely MUST, under practically all conditions and at all times, treat me nicely, considerately and fairly. Otherwise, it is terrible and they are rotten, bad, unworthy people who will always treat me badly and do not deserve a good life and should be severely punished for acting so abominably to me.”“The conditions under which I live absolutely MUST, at practically all times, be favorable, safe, hassle-free, and quickly and easily enjoyable, and if they are not that way it’s awful and horrible and I can’t bear it. I can’t ever enjoy myself at all. My life is impossible and hardly worth living.”
Holding this belief when faced with adversity tends to contribute to feelings of anxiety, panic, depression, despair, and worthlessness.Holding this belief when faced with adversity tends to contribute to feelings of anger, rage, fury, and vindictiveness.Holding this belief when faced with adversity tends to contribute to frustration and discomfort, intolerance, self-pity, anger, depression, and to behaviours such as procrastination, avoidance, addictive behaviours and inaction.

Rigid Demands that Humans Make

REBT commonly posits that at the core of irrational beliefs there often are explicit or implicit rigid demands and commands, and that extreme derivatives like awfulising, low frustration tolerance, people deprecation and over-generalisations are accompanied by these. According to REBT the core dysfunctional philosophies in a person’s evaluative emotional and behavioural belief system, are also very likely to contribute to unrealistic, arbitrary and crooked inferences and distortions in thinking. REBT therefore first teaches that when people in an insensible and devout way overuse absolutistic, dogmatic and rigid “shoulds”, “musts”, and “oughts”, they tend to disturb and upset themselves.

Over-Generalisation

Further, REBT generally posits that disturbed evaluations to a large degree occur through over-generalisation, wherein people exaggerate and globalise events or traits, usually unwanted events or traits or behaviour, out of context, while almost always ignoring the positive events or traits or behaviours. For example, awfulising is partly mental magnification of the importance of an unwanted situation to a catastrophe or horror, elevating the rating of something from bad to worse than it should be, to beyond totally bad, worse than bad to the intolerable and to a “holocaust”. The same exaggeration and overgeneralising occurs with human rating, wherein humans come to be arbitrarily and axiomatically defined by their perceived flaws or misdeeds. Frustration intolerance then occurs when a person perceives something to be too difficult, painful or tedious, and by doing so exaggerates these qualities beyond one’s ability to cope with them.

Secondary Disturbances

Essential to REBT theory is also the concept of secondary disturbances which people sometimes construct on top of their primary disturbance. As Ellis emphasizes:

“Because of their self-consciousness and their ability to think about their thinking, they can very easily disturb themselves about their disturbances and can also disturb themselves about their ineffective attempts to overcome their emotional disturbances.”

Origins of Dysfunction

Regarding cognitive-affective-behavioral processes in mental functioning and dysfunctioning, originator Albert Ellis explains:

“REBT assumes that human thinking, emotion, and action are not really separate or disparate processes, but that they all significantly overlap and are rarely experienced in a pure state. Much of what we call emotion is nothing more nor less than a certain kind—a biased, prejudiced, or strongly evaluative kind—of thought. But emotions and behaviors significantly influence and affect thinking, just as thinking influences emotions and behaviors. Evaluating is a fundamental characteristic of human organisms and seems to work in a kind of closed circuit with a feedback mechanism: First, perception biases response, and then response tends to bias subsequent perception. Also, prior perceptions appear to bias subsequent perceptions, and prior responses appear to bias subsequent responses. What we call feelings almost always have a pronounced evaluating or appraisal element.”

REBT then generally proposes that many of these self-defeating cognitive, emotive and behavioural tendencies are both innately biological and indoctrinated early in and during life, and further grow stronger as a person continually revisits, clings and acts on them. Ellis alludes to similarities between REBT and the general semantics when explaining the role of irrational beliefs in self-defeating tendencies, citing Alfred Korzybski as a significant modern influence on this thinking.

REBT differs from other clinical approaches like psychoanalysis in that it places little emphasis on exploring the past, but instead focuses on changing the current evaluations and philosophical thinking-emoting and behaving in relation to themselves, others and the conditions under which people live.

Irrational Beliefs

REBT proposes four core irrational beliefs;

  1. Demands: The tendency to demand success, fair treatment, and respect (e.g. I must be treated fairly).
  2. Awfulizing: The tendency to consider adverse events as awful or terrible (e.g. It is awful when I am disrespected).
  3. Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT): The belief that one could not stand or tolerate adversity (e.g. I cannot stand being treated unfairly).
  4. Depreciation: The belief that one event reflects the person as a whole (e.g. When I fail it shows that I am a complete failure).

Other Insights

Other insights of REBT (some referring to the ABCDEF model above) are:

  • Insight 1:
    • People seeing and accepting the reality that their emotional disturbances at point C are only partially caused by the activating events or adversities at point A that precede C.
    • Although A contributes to C, and although disturbed Cs (such as feelings of panic and depression) are much more likely to follow strong negative As (such as being assaulted or raped), than they are to follow weak.
    • As (such as being disliked by a stranger), the main or more direct cores of extreme and dysfunctional emotional disturbances (Cs) are people’s irrational beliefs – the “absolutistic” (inflexible) “musts” and their accompanying inferences and attributions that people strongly believe about the activating event.
  • Insight 2:
    • No matter how, when, and why people acquire self-defeating or irrational beliefs (i.e. beliefs that are the main cause of their dysfunctional emotional-behavioural consequences), if they are disturbed in the present, they tend to keep holding these irrational beliefs and continue upsetting themselves with these thoughts.
    • They do so not because they held them in the past, but because they still actively hold them in the present (often unconsciously), while continuing to reaffirm their beliefs and act as if they are still valid.
    • In their minds and hearts, the troubled people still follow the core “musturbatory” philosophies they adopted or invented long ago, or ones they recently accepted or constructed.
  • Insight 3:
    • No matter how well they have gained insights 1 and 2, insight alone rarely enables people to undo their emotional disturbances.
    • They may feel better when they know, or think they know, how they became disturbed, because insights can feel useful and curative.
    • But it is unlikely that people will actually get better and stay better unless they have and apply insight 3, which is that there is usually no way to get better and stay better except by continual work and practice in looking for and finding one’s core irrational beliefs; actively, energetically, and scientifically disputing them; replacing one’s absolute “musts” (rigid requirements about how things should be) with more flexible preferences; changing one’s unhealthy feelings to healthy, self-helping emotions; and firmly acting against one’s dysfunctional fears and compulsions.
    • Only by a combined cognitive, emotive, and behavioural, as well as a quite persistent and forceful attack on one’s serious emotional problems, is one likely to significantly ameliorate or remove them, and keep them removed.

Intervention

As explained, REBT is a therapeutic system of both theory and practice; generally one of the goals of REBT is to help clients see the ways in which they have learned how they often needlessly upset themselves, teach them how to “un-upset” themselves and then how to empower themselves to lead happier and more fulfilling lives. The emphasis in therapy is generally to establish a successful collaborative therapeutic working alliance based on the REBT educational model. Although REBT teaches that the therapist or counsellor is better served by demonstrating unconditional other-acceptance or unconditional positive regard, the therapist is not necessarily always encouraged to build a warm and caring relationship with the client. The tasks of the therapist or counsellor include understanding the client’s concerns from his point of reference and work as a facilitator, teacher and encourager.

In traditional REBT, the client together with the therapist, in a structured active-directive manner, often work through a set of target problems and establish a set of therapeutic goals. In these target problems, situational dysfunctional emotions, behaviours and beliefs are assessed in regards to the client’s values and goals. After working through these problems, the client learns to generalise insights to other relevant situations. In many cases after going through a client’s different target problems, the therapist is interested in examining possible core beliefs and more deep rooted philosophical evaluations and schemas that might account for a wider array of problematic emotions and behaviours. Although REBT much of the time is used as a brief therapy, in deeper and more complex problems, longer therapy is promoted.

In therapy, the first step often is that the client acknowledges the problems, accepts emotional responsibility for these and has willingness and determination to change. This normally requires a considerable amount of insight, but as originator Albert Ellis explains:

“Humans, unlike just about all the other animals on earth, create fairly sophisticated languages which not only enable them to think about their feeling, their actions, and the results they get from doing and not doing certain things, but they also are able to think about their thinking and even think about thinking about their thinking.”

Through the therapeutic process, REBT employs a wide array of forceful and active, meaning multimodal and disputing, methodologies. Central through these methods and techniques is the intent to help the client challenge, dispute and question their destructive and self-defeating cognitions, emotions and behaviours. The methods and techniques incorporate cognitive-philosophic, emotive-evocative-dramatic, and behavioural methods for disputation of the client’s irrational and self-defeating constructs and helps the client come up with more rational and self-constructive ones. REBT seeks to acknowledge that understanding and insight are not enough; in order for clients to significantly change, they need to pinpoint their irrational and self-defeating constructs and work forcefully and actively at changing them to more functional and self-helping ones.

REBT posits that the client must work hard to get better, and in therapy this normally includes a wide array of homework exercises in day-to-day life assigned by the therapist. The assignments may for example include desensitisation tasks, i.e. by having the client confront the very thing he or she is afraid of. By doing so, the client is actively acting against the belief that often is contributing significantly to the disturbance.

Another factor contributing to the brevity of REBT is that the therapist seeks to empower the client to help himself through future adversities. REBT only promotes temporary solutions if more fundamental solutions are not found. An ideal successful collaboration between the REBT therapist and a client results in changes to the client’s philosophical way of evaluating himself or herself, others, and his or her life, which will likely yield effective results. The client then moves toward unconditional self-acceptance, other-acceptance and life-acceptance while striving to live a more self-fulfilling and happier life.

Applications and Interfaces

Applications and interfaces of REBT are used with a broad range of clinical problems in traditional psychotherapeutic settings such as individual-, group- and family therapy. It is used as a general treatment for a vast number of different conditions and psychological problems normally associated with psychotherapy.

In addition, REBT is used with non-clinical problems and problems of living through counselling, consultation and coaching settings dealing with problems including relationships, social skills, career changes, stress management, assertiveness training, grief, problems with aging, money, weight control etc. More recently, the reported use of REBT in sport and exercise settings has grown, with the efficacy of REBT demonstrated across a range of sports.

REBT also has many interfaces and applications through self-help resources, phone and internet counselling, workshops & seminars, workplace and educational programmes, etc. This includes Rational Emotive Education (REE) where REBT is applied in education settings, Rational Effectiveness Training in business and work-settings and SMART Recovery (Self Management And Recovery Training) in supporting those in addiction recovery, in addition to a wide variety of specialised treatment strategies and applications.

Efficacy

REBT and CBT in general have a substantial and strong research base to verify and support both their psychotherapeutic efficiency and their theoretical underpinnings. Meta-analyses of outcome-based studies reveal REBT to be effective for treating various psychopathologies, conditions and problems. Recently, REBT randomised clinical trials have offered a positive view on the efficacy of REBT.

In general REBT is arguably one of the most investigated theories in the field of psychotherapy and a large amount of clinical experience and a substantial body of modern psychological research have validated and substantiated many of REBTs theoretical assumptions on personality and psychotherapy.

REBT may be effective in improving sports performance and mental health.

Limitations and Critique

The clinical research on REBT has been criticised both from within and by others. For instance, originator Albert Ellis has on occasions emphasized the difficulty and complexity of measuring psychotherapeutic effectiveness, because many studies only tend to measure whether clients merely feel better after therapy instead of them getting better and staying better. Ellis has also criticised studies for having limited focus primarily to cognitive restructuring aspects, as opposed to the combination of cognitive, emotive and behavioural aspects of REBT. As REBT has been subject to criticisms during its existence, especially in its early years, REBT theorists have a long history of publishing and addressing those concerns. It has also been argued by Ellis and by other clinicians that REBT theory on numerous occasions has been misunderstood and misconstrued both in research and in general.

Some have criticised REBT for being harsh, formulaic and failing to address deep underlying problems. REBT theorists have argued in reply that a careful study of REBT shows that it is both philosophically deep, humanistic and individualised collaboratively working on the basis of the client’s point of reference. They have further argued that REBT utilises an integrated and interrelated methodology of cognitive, emotive-experiential and behavioural interventions. Others have questioned REBTs view of rationality, both radical constructivists who have claimed that reason and logic are subjective properties and those who believe that reason can be objectively determined. REBT theorists have argued in reply that REBT raises objections to clients’ irrational choices and conclusions as a working hypothesis and through collaborative efforts demonstrate the irrationality on practical, functional and social consensual grounds. In 1998 when asked what the main criticism on REBT was, Albert Ellis replied that it was the claim that it was too rational and not dealing sufficiently enough with emotions. He repudiated the claim by saying that REBT on the contrary emphasizes that thinking, feeling, and behaving are interrelated and integrated, and that it includes a vast amount of both emotional and behavioural methods in addition to cognitive ones.

Ellis has himself in very direct terms criticised opposing approaches such as psychoanalysis, transpersonal psychology and abreactive psychotherapies in addition to on several occasions questioning some of the doctrines in certain religious systems, spiritualism and mysticism. Many, including REBT practitioners, have warned against dogmatising and sanctifying REBT as a supposedly perfect psychological panacea. Prominent REBTers have promoted the importance of high quality and programmatic research, including originator Ellis, a self-proclaimed “passionate sceptic”. He has on many occasions been open to challenges and acknowledged errors and inefficiencies in his approach and concurrently revised his theories and practices. In general, with regard to cognitive-behavioural psychotherapies’ interventions, others have pointed out that as about 30-40% of people are still unresponsive to interventions, that REBT could be a platform of reinvigorating empirical studies on the effectiveness of the cognitive-behavioural models of psychopathology and human functioning.

REBT has been developed, revised and augmented through the years as understanding and knowledge of psychology and psychotherapy have progressed. This includes its theoretical concepts, practices and methodology. The teaching of scientific thinking, reasonableness and un-dogmatism has been inherent in REBT as an approach, and these ways of thinking are an inextricable part of REBT’s empirical and sceptical nature.

I hope I am also not a devout REBTer, since I do not think it is an unmitigated cure for everyone and do accept its distinct limitations. (Albert Ellis).

Mental Wellness

As would be expected, REBT argues that mental wellness and mental health to a large degree results from an adequate amount of self-helping, flexible, logico-empirical ways of thinking, emoting and behaving. When a perceived undesired and stressful activating event occurs, and the individual is interpreting, evaluating and reacting to the situation rationally and self-helpingly, then the resulting consequence is, according to REBT, likely to be more healthy, constructive and functional. This does not by any means mean that a relatively un-disturbed person never experiences negative feelings, but REBT does hope to keep debilitating and un-healthy emotions and subsequent self-defeating behaviour to a minimum. To do this, REBT generally promotes a flexible, un-dogmatic, self-helping and efficient belief system and constructive life philosophy about adversities and human desires and preferences.

REBT clearly acknowledges that people, in addition to disturbing themselves, also are innately constructivists. Because they largely upset themselves with their beliefs, emotions and behaviours, they can be helped to, in a multimodal manner, dispute and question these and develop a more workable, more self-helping set of constructs.

REBT generally teaches and promotes:

  • That the concepts and philosophies of life of unconditional self-acceptance, other-acceptance, and life-acceptance are effective philosophies of life in achieving mental wellness and mental health.
  • That human beings are inherently fallible and imperfect and that they are better served by accepting their and other human beings’ totality and humanity, while at the same time they may not like some of their behaviours and characteristics.
    • That they are better off not measuring their entire self or their “being” and give up the narrow, grandiose and ultimately destructive notion to give themselves any global rating or report card.
    • This is partly because all humans are continually evolving and are far too complex to accurately rate; all humans do both self-defeating/socially defeating and self-helping / socially helping deeds, and have both beneficial and un-beneficial attributes and traits at certain times and in certain conditions.
    • REBT holds that ideas and feelings about self-worth are largely definitional and are not empirically confirmable or falsifiable.
  • That people had better accept life with its hassles and difficulties not always in accordance with their wants, while trying to change what they can change and live as elegantly as possible with what they cannot change.

What is Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

Introduction

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a brief, attachment-focused psychotherapy that centres on resolving interpersonal problems and symptomatic recovery.

It is an empirically supported treatment (EST) that follows a highly structured and time-limited approach and is intended to be completed within 12-16 weeks. IPT is based on the principle that relationships and life events impact mood and that the reverse is also true.

It was developed by Gerald Klerman and Myrna Weissman for major depression in the 1970s and has since been adapted for other mental disorders. IPT is an empirically validated intervention for depressive disorders, and is more effective when used in combination with psychiatric medications.

Along with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), IPT is recommended in treatment guidelines as a psychosocial treatment of choice.

Brief History

Originally named “high contact” therapy, IPT was first developed in 1969 at Yale University as part of a study designed by Gerald Klerman, Myrna Weissman and colleagues to test the efficacy of an antidepressant with and without psychotherapy as maintenance treatment of depression. IPT has been studied in many research protocols since its development. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Programme (TDCRP) demonstrated the efficacy of IPT as a maintenance treatment and delineated some contributing factors.

Foundations

IPT was influenced by CBT as well as psychodynamic approaches. It takes its structure from CBT in that it is time-limited, employs structured interviews and assessment tools. In general, however, IPT focuses directly on affects, or feelings, whereas CBT focuses on cognitions with strong associated affects. Unlike CBT, IPT makes no attempt to uncover distorted thoughts systematically by giving homework or other assignments, nor does it help the patient develop alternative thought patterns through prescribed practice. Rather, as evidence arises during the course of therapy, the therapist calls attention to distorted thinking in relation to significant others. The goal is to change the relationship pattern rather than associated depressive cognitions, which are acknowledged as depressive symptoms.

The content of IPT’s therapy was inspired by Attachment theory and Harry Stack Sullivan’s Interpersonal psychoanalysis. Social theory is also influenced in a lesser role to emphasis on qualitative impact of social support networks for recovery. Unlike psychodynamic approaches, IPT does not include a personality theory or attempt to conceptualise or treat personality but focuses on humanistic applications of interpersonal sensitivity.

  • Attachment Theory, forms the basis for understanding patients’ relationship difficulties, attachment schema and optimal functioning when attachment needs are met.
  • Interpersonal Theory, describes the ways in which patients’ maladaptive metacommunication patterns (Low to high Affiliation & Inclusion and dominant to submissive Status) lead to or evoke difficulty in their here-and-now interpersonal relationships.

The aim of IPT is to help the patient to improve interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills within relationships and to develop social support network with realistic expectations to deal with the crises precipitated in distress and to weather ‘interpersonal storms’.

Clinical Applications

It has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for depression and has been modified to treat other psychiatric disorders such as substance use disorders and eating disorders. It is incumbent upon the therapist in the treatment to quickly establish a therapeutic alliance with positive countertransference of warmth, empathy, affective attunement and positive regard for encouraging a positive transferential relationship, from which the patient is able to seek help from the therapist despite resistance. It is primarily used as a short-term therapy completed in 12-16 weeks, but it has also been used as a maintenance therapy for patients with recurrent depression. A shorter, 6-week therapy suited to primary care settings called Interpersonal counselling (IPC) has been derived from IPT.

Interpersonal psychotherapy has been found to be an effective treatment for the following:

  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Bulimia nervosa.
  • Post-partum depression.
  • Major depressive disorder.
  • Cyclothymia.

Adolescents

Although originally developed as an individual therapy for adults, IPT has been modified for use with adolescents and older adults.

IPT for children is based on the premise that depression occurs in the context of an individual’s relationships regardless of its origins in biology or genetics. More specifically, depression affects people’s relationships and these relationships further affect our mood. The IPT model identifies four general areas in which a person may be having relationship difficulties:

  • Grief after the loss of a loved one;
  • Conflict in significant relationships, including a client’s relationship with his or her own self;
  • Difficulties adapting to changes in relationships or life circumstances; and
  • Difficulties stemming from social isolation.

The IPT therapist helps identify areas in need of skill-building to improve the client’s relationships and decrease the depressive symptoms. Over time, the client learns to link changes in mood to events occurring in his/her relationships, communicate feelings and expectations for the relationships, and problem-solve solutions to difficulties in the relationships.

IPT has been adapted for the treatment of depressed adolescents (IPT-A) to address developmental issues most common to teenagers such as separation from parents, development of romantic relationships, and initial experience with death of a relative or friend. IPT-A helps the adolescent identify and develop more adaptive methods for dealing with the interpersonal issues associated with the onset or maintenance of their depression. IPT-A is typically a 12- to 16-week treatment. Although the treatment involves primarily individual sessions with the teenager, parents are asked to participate in a few sessions to receive education about depression, to address any relationship difficulties that may be occurring between the adolescent and his/her parents, and to help support the adolescent’s treatment.

Elderly

IPT has been used as a psychotherapy for depressed elderly, with its emphasis on addressing interpersonally relevant problems. IPT appears especially well suited to the life changes that many people experience in their later years.

What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Introduction

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder characterised by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about events or activities. Worry often interferes with daily functioning, and sufferers are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health, finances, death, family, relationship concerns, or work difficulties. Symptoms may include excessive worry, restlessness, trouble sleeping, exhaustion, irritability, sweating, and trembling.

Symptoms must be consistent and ongoing, persisting at least six months, for a formal diagnosis of GAD. Individuals with GAD often suffer from other disorders including other psychiatric disorders (e.g. major depressive disorder), substance use disorder, obesity, and may have a history of trauma or family with GAD. Clinicians use screening tools such as the GAD-7 and GAD-2 questionnaires to determine if individuals may have GAD and warrant formal evaluation for the disorder. Additionally, sometimes screening tools may enable clinicians to evaluate the severity of GAD symptoms.

GAD is believed to have a hereditary or genetic basis (e.g. first-degree relatives of an individual who has GAD are themselves more likely to have GAD) but the exact nature of this relationship is not fully appreciated. Genetic studies of individuals who have anxiety disorders (including GAD) suggest that the hereditary contribution to developing anxiety disorders is only approximately 30-40%, which suggests that environmental factors may be more important to determining whether an individual develops GAD.

The pathophysiology of GAD implicates several regions of the brain that mediate the processing of stimuli associated with fear, anxiety, memory, and emotion (i.e. the amygdala, insula and the frontal cortex). It has been suggested that individuals with GAD have greater amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) activity in response to stimuli than individuals who do not have GAD. However, the relationship between GAD and activity levels in other parts of the frontal cortex is the subject of ongoing research with some literature suggesting greater activation in specific regions for individuals who have GAD but where other research suggests decreased activation levels in individuals who have GAD as compared to individuals who do not have GAD.

Traditional treatment modalities include variations on psychotherapy (e.g. cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)) and pharmacological intervention (e.g. citalopram, escitalopram, sertraline, duloxetine, and venlafaxine). CBT and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the respectively predominant psychological and pharmacological treatment modalities; other treatments (e.g. selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)) are often considered depending on individual response to therapy. Areas of active investigation include the usefulness of complementary and alternative medications (CAMs), exercise, therapeutic massage and other interventions that have been proposed for study.

Estimates regarding prevalence of GAD or lifetime risk (i.e. lifetime morbid risk (LMR)) for GAD vary depending upon which criteria are used for diagnosing GAD (e.g. DSM-5 vs ICD-10) although estimates do not vary widely between diagnostic criteria. In general, ICD-10 is more inclusive than DSM-5, so estimates regarding prevalence and lifetime risk tend to be greater using ICD-10. In regard to prevalence, in a given year, about two (2%) percent of adults in the United States and Europe have been suggested to suffer GAD. However, the risk of developing GAD at any point in life has been estimated at 9.0%. Although it is possible to experience a single episode of GAD during one’s life, most people who experience GAD experience it repeatedly over the course of their lives as a chronic or ongoing condition. GAD is diagnosed twice as frequently in women as in men.

Diagnosis

DSM-5 Criteria

The diagnostic criteria for GAD as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) (2013), published by the American Psychiatric Association, are paraphrased as follows:

  1. “Excessive anxiety or worry” experienced most days over at least six (6) month and which involve a plurality of concerns.
  2. Inability to manage worry.
  3. At least three (3) of the following occur:
    • Restlessness.
    • Fatigability.
    • Problems concentrating.
    • Irritability.
    • Muscle tension.
    • Difficulty with sleep.
    • Note that in children, only one (1) of the above items is required.
  4. One experiences significant distress in functioning (e.g. work, school, social life).
  5. Symptoms are not due to drug abuse, prescription medication or other medical condition(s).
  6. Symptoms do not fit better with another psychiatric condition such as panic disorder.

No major changes to GAD have occurred since publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2004); minor changes include wording of diagnostic criteria.

ICD-10 Criteria

The 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Disease (ICD-10) provides a different set of diagnostic criteria for GAD than the DSM-5 criteria described above. In particular, ICD-10 allows diagnosis of GAD as follows:

  • A period of at least six months with prominent tension, worry, and feelings of apprehension, about everyday events and problems.
  • At least four symptoms out of the following list of items must be present, of which at least one from items (1) to (4).
    • Autonomic arousal symptoms:
      • (1) Palpitations or pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
      • (2) Sweating.
      • (3) Trembling or shaking.
      • (4) Dry mouth (not due to medication or dehydration).
    • Symptoms concerning chest and abdomen:
      • (5) Difficulty breathing.
      • (6) Feeling of choking.
      • (7) Chest pain or discomfort.
      • (8) Nausea or abdominal distress (e.g. churning in the stomach).
    • Symptoms concerning brain and mind:
      • (9) Feeling dizzy, unsteady, faint or light-headed.
      • (10) Feelings that objects are unreal (derealization), or that one’s self is distant or “not really here” (depersonalization).
      • (11) Fear of losing control, going crazy, or passing out.
      • (12) Fear of dying.
    • General symptoms:
      • (13) Hot flashes or cold chills.
      • (14) Numbness or tingling sensations.
    • Symptoms of tension:
      • (15) Muscle tension or aches and pains.
      • (16) Restlessness and inability to relax.
      • (17) Feeling keyed up, or on edge, or of mental tension.
      • (18) A sensation of a lump in the throat or difficulty with swallowing.
    • Other non-specific symptoms:
      • (19) Exaggerated response to minor surprises or being startled.
      • (20) Difficulty in concentrating or mind going blank, because of worrying or anxiety.
      • (21) Persistent irritability.
      • (22) Difficulty getting to sleep because of worrying.
  • The disorder does not meet the criteria for panic disorder (F41.0), phobic anxiety disorders (F40.-), obsessive-compulsive disorder (F42.-) or hypochondriacal disorder (F45.2).
  • Most commonly used exclusion criteria: not sustained by a physical disorder, such as hyperthyroidism, an organic mental disorder (F0) or psychoactive substance-related disorder (F1), such as excess consumption of amphetamine-like substances, or withdrawal from benzodiazepines.[21]

See ICD-10 F41.1

Note: For children different ICD-10 criteria may be applied for diagnosing GAD (see F93.80).

History of Diagnostic Criteria

The American Psychiatric Association introduced GAD as a diagnosis in the DSM-III in 1980, when anxiety neurosis was split into GAD and panic disorder. The definition in the DSM-III required uncontrollable and diffuse anxiety or worry that is excessive and unrealistic and persists for 1 month or longer. High rates in comorbidity of GAD and major depression led many commentators to suggest that GAD would be better conceptualised as an aspect of major depression instead of an independent disorder. Many critics stated that the diagnostic features of this disorder were not well established until the DSM-III-R. Since comorbidity of GAD and other disorders decreased with time, the DSM-III-R changed the time requirement for a GAD diagnosis to 6 months or longer. The DSM-IV changed the definition of excessive worry and the number of associated psychophysiological symptoms required for a diagnosis. Another aspect of the diagnosis the DSM-IV clarified was what constitutes a symptom as occurring “often”. The DSM-IV also required difficulty controlling the worry to be diagnosed with GAD. The DSM-5 emphasized that excessive worrying had to occur more days than not and on a number of different topics. It has been stated that the constant changes in the diagnostic features of the disorder have made assessing epidemiological statistics such as prevalence and incidence difficult, as well as increasing the difficulty for researchers in identifying the biological and psychological underpinnings of the disorder. Consequently, making specialized medications for the disorder is more difficult as well. This has led to the continuation of GAD being medicated heavily with SSRIs.

Risk Factors

Genetics, Family and Environment

The relationship between genetics and anxiety disorders is an ongoing area of research. It is broadly understood that there exists an hereditary basis for GAD, but the exact nature of this hereditary basis is not fully appreciated. While investigators have identified several genetic loci that are regions of interest for further study, there is no singular gene or set of genes that have been identified as causing GAD. Nevertheless, genetic factors may play a role in determining whether an individual is at greater risk for developing GAD, structural changes in the brain related to GAD, or whether an individual is more or less likely to respond to a particular treatment modality. Genetic factors that may play a role in development of GAD are usually discussed in view of environmental factors (e.g. life experience or ongoing stress) that might also play a role in development of GAD. The traditional methods of investigating the possible hereditary basis of GAD include using family studies and twin studies (there are no known adoption studies of individuals who suffer anxiety disorders, including GAD). Meta-analysis of family and twin studies suggests that there is strong evidence of a hereditary basis for GAD in that GAD is more likely to occur in first-degree relatives of individuals who have GAD than in non-related individuals in the same population. Twin studies also suggest that there may be a genetic linkage between GAD and major depressive disorder (MDD), which may explain the common occurrence of MDD in individuals who suffer GAD (e.g. comorbidity of MDD in individuals with GAD has been estimated at approximately 60%). When GAD is considered among all anxiety disorders (e.g. panic disorder, social anxiety disorder), genetic studies suggest that hereditary contribution to the development of anxiety disorders amounts to only approximately 30-40%, which suggests that environmental factors are likely more important to determining whether an individual may develop GAD. In regard to environmental influences in the development of GAD, it has been suggested that parenting behaviour may be an important influence since parents potentially model anxiety-related behaviours. It has also been suggested that individuals who suffer GAD have experienced a greater number of minor stress-related events in life and that the number of stress-related events may be important in development of GAD (irrespective of other individual characteristics).

Studies of possible genetic contributions to the development of GAD have examined relationships between genes implicated in brain structures involved in identifying potential threats (e.g. in the amygdala) and also implicated in neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter receptors known to be involved in anxiety disorders. More specifically, genes studied for their relationship to development of GAD or demonstrated to have had a relationship to treatment response include:

  • PACAP (A54G polymorphism): remission after 6 month treatment with Venlafaxine suggested to have a significant relationship with the A54G polymorphism (Cooper et al. (2013)).
  • HTR2A gene (rs7997012 SNP G allele): HTR2A allele suggested to be implicated in a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms associated with response to 6 months of Venlafaxine treatment (Lohoff et al. (2013)).
  • SLC6A4 promoter region (5-HTTLPR): Serotonin transporter gene suggested to be implicated in significant reduction in anxiety symptoms in response to 6 months of Venlafaxine treatment (Lohoff et al. (2013)).

Pathophysiology

The pathophysiology of GAD is an active and ongoing area of research often involving the intersection of genetics and neurological structures. GAD has been linked to changes in functional connectivity of the amygdala and its processing of fear and anxiety. Sensory information enters the amygdala through the nuclei of the basolateral complex (consisting of lateral, basal and accessory basal nuclei). The basolateral complex processes the sensory-related fear memories and communicates information regarding threat importance to memory and sensory processing elsewhere in the brain, such as the medial prefrontal cortex and sensory cortices. Neurological structures traditionally appreciated for their roles in anxiety include the amygdala, insula and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). It is broadly postulated that changes in one or more of these neurological structures are believed to allow greater amygdala response to emotional stimuli in individuals who have GAD as compared to individuals who do not have GAD.

Individuals who GAD have been suggested to have greater amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) activation in response to stimuli than individuals who do not have GAD. However, the exact relationship between the amygdala and the frontal cortex (e.g. prefrontal cortex or the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)) is not fully understood because there are studies that suggest increased or decreased activity in the frontal cortex in individuals who have GAD. Consequently, because of the tenuous understanding of the frontal cortex as it relates to the amygdala in individuals who have GAD, it’s an open question as to whether individuals who have GAD bear an amygdala that is more sensitive than an amygdala in an individual without GAD or whether frontal cortex hyperactivity is responsible for changes in amygdala responsiveness to various stimuli. Recent studies have attempted to identify specific regions of the frontal cortex (e.g. dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC)) that may be more or less reactive in individuals who have GAD or specific networks that may be differentially implicated in individuals who have GAD. Other lines of study investigate whether activation patterns vary in individuals who have GAD at different ages with respect to individuals who do not have GAD at the same age (e.g. amygdala activation in adolescents with GAD).

Treatment

Traditional treatment modalities broadly fall into two (2) categories:

  • Psychotherapeutic; and
  • Pharmacological intervention.

In addition to these two conventional therapeutic approaches, areas of active investigation include complementary and alternative medications (CAMs), brain stimulation, exercise, therapeutic massage and other interventions that have been proposed for further study. Treatment modalities can, and often are utilised concurrently so that an individual may pursue psychological therapy (i.e. psychotherapy) and pharmacological therapy. Both cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medications (such as SSRIs) have been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety. A combination of both CBT and medication is generally seen as the most desirable approach to treatment. Use of medication to lower extreme anxiety levels can be important in enabling patients to engage effectively in CBT.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapeutic interventions include a plurality of therapy types that vary based upon their specific methodologies for enabling individuals to gain insight into the working of the conscious and subconscious mind and which sometimes focus on the relationship between cognition and behaviour. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is widely regarded as the first-line psychological therapy for treating GAD. Additionally, many of these psychological interventions may be delivered in an individual or group therapy setting. While individual and group settings are broadly both considered effective for treating GAD, individual therapy tends to promote longer-lasting engagement in therapy (i.e. lower attrition over time).

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a type of therapy premised upon Freudian psychology in which a psychologist enables an individual explore various elements in their subconscious mind to resolve conflicts that may exist between the conscious and subconscious elements of the mind. In the context of GAD, the psychodynamic theory of anxiety suggests that the unconscious mind engages in worry as a defence mechanism to avoid feelings of anger or hostility because such feelings might cause social isolation or other negative attribution toward oneself. Accordingly, the various psychodynamic therapies attempt to explore the nature of worry as it functions in GAD in order to enable individuals to alter the subconscious practice of using worry as a defence mechanism and to thereby diminish GAD symptoms. Variations of psychotherapy include a near-term version of therapy, “short-term anxiety-provoking psychotherapy (STAPP).

Behavioural Therapy

Behavioural therapy is therapeutic intervention premised upon the concept that anxiety is learned through classical conditioning (e.g., in view of one or more negative experiences) and maintained through operant conditioning (e.g. one finds that by avoiding a feared experience that one avoids anxiety). Thus, behavioural therapy enables an individual to re-learn conditioned responses (behaviours) and to thereby challenge behaviours that have become conditioned responses to fear and anxiety, and which have previously given rise to further maladaptive behaviours.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy (CT) is premised upon the idea that anxiety is the result of maladaptive beliefs and methods of thinking. Thus, CT involves assisting individuals to identify more rational ways of thinking and to replace maladaptive thinking patterns (i.e. cognitive distortions) with healthier thinking patterns (e.g. replacing the cognitive distortion of catastrophising with a more productive pattern of thinking). Individuals in CT learn how to identify objective evidence, test hypotheses, and ultimately identify maladaptive thinking patterns so that these patterns can be challenged and replaced.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a behavioural treatment based on acceptance-based models. ACT is designed with the purpose to target three therapeutic goals:

  1. Reduce the use of avoiding strategies intended to avoid feelings, thoughts, memories, and sensations;
  2. Decreasing a person’s literal response to their thoughts (e.g., understanding that thinking “I’m hopeless” does not mean that the person’s life is truly hopeless); and
  3. Increasing the person’s ability to keep commitments to changing their behaviours.

These goals are attained by switching the person’s attempt to control events to working towards changing their behaviour and focusing on valued directions and goals in their lives as well as committing to behaviours that help the individual accomplish those personal goals. This psychological therapy teaches mindfulness (paying attention on purpose, in the present, and in a non-judgemental manner) and acceptance (openness and willingness to sustain contact) skills for responding to uncontrollable events and therefore manifesting behaviours that enact personal values. Like many other psychological therapies, ACT works best in combination with pharmacology treatments.

Intolerance of Uncertainty Therapy

Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) refers to a consistent negative reaction to uncertain and ambiguous events regardless of their likelihood of occurrence. Intolerance of uncertainty therapy (IUT) is used as a stand-alone treatment for GAD patients. Thus, IUT focuses on helping patients in developing the ability to tolerate, cope with and accept uncertainty in their life in order to reduce anxiety. IUT is based on the psychological components of psychoeducation, awareness of worry, problem-solving training, re-evaluation of the usefulness of worry, imagining virtual exposure, recognition of uncertainty, and behavioural exposure. Studies have shown support for the efficacy of this therapy with GAD patients with continued improvements in follow-up periods.

Motivational Interviewing

A promising innovative approach to improving recovery rates for the treatment of GAD is to combine CBT with motivational interviewing (MI). Motivational interviewing is a strategy centred on the patient that aims to increase intrinsic motivation and decrease ambivalence about change due to the treatment. MI contains four key elements:

  • Express empathy;
  • Heighten dissonance between behaviours that are not desired and values that are not consistent with those behaviours;
  • Move with resistance rather than direct confrontation; and
  • Encourage self-efficacy.

It is based on asking open-ended questions and listening carefully and reflectively to patients’ answers, eliciting “change talk”, and talking with patients about the pros and cons of change. Some studies have shown the combination of CBT with MI to be more effective than CBT alone.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based type of psychotherapy that demonstrates efficacy in treating GAD and which integrates the cognitive and behavioural therapeutic approaches. The objective of CBT is to enable individuals to identify irrational thoughts that cause anxiety and to challenge dysfunctional thinking patterns by engaging in awareness techniques such as hypothesis testing and journaling. Because CBT involves the practice of worry and anxiety management, CBT includes a plurality of intervention techniques that enable individuals to explore worry, anxiety and automatic negative thinking patterns. These interventions include anxiety management training, cognitive restructuring, progressive relaxation, situational exposure and self-controlled desensitisation.

Other forms of psychological therapy include:

  • Relaxation techniques (e.g. relaxing imagery, meditational relaxation).
  • Metacognitive Therapy (MCT):
    • The objective of MCT is to alter thinking patterns regarding worry so that worry is no longer used as a coping strategy.
  • Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR).
  • Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
  • Supportive therapy:
    • This is a Rogerian method of therapy in which subjects experience empathy and acceptance from their therapist to facilitate increasing awareness.
    • Variations of active supportive therapy include Gestalt therapy, Transactional analysis and Counselling.

Pharmacotherapy

Historically, benzodiazepines (BZs) were used prominently to treat anxiety starting in the 1970s but support for this use attenuated in view of the risk for dependence and tolerance to the medication. BZs can have a plurality of effects that made them a seemingly desirable option for treating anxiety – i.e. BZs have anxiolytic, hypnotic (induce sleep), myorelaxant (relax muscles), anticonvulsant and amnestic (impair short-term memory) properties. While BZs are well appreciated for their ability to alleviate anxiety (i.e. their anxiolytic properties) shortly after administration, they are also known for their ability to promote dependence and are frequently abused. Current recommendations for using BZs to treat anxiety in GAD allow no more than 2-4 weeks of BZ exposure. Antidepressants (e.g. SSRIs/SNRIs) have become a mainstay in treating GAD in adults. First-line mediations from any drug category often include drugs that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating GAD because these medications have been proven safe and effective for treating GAD.

FDA-Approved Medications for Treating GAD

FDA-approved medications for treating GAD include:

  • SSRIs:
    • Paroxetine.
    • Escitalopram.
  • SNRIs:
    • Venlafaxine.
    • Duloxetine.
  • Benzodiazepines (BZs):
    • Alprazolam: Alprazolam is the only FDA-approved BZ for treating GAD.
  • Azapirones:
    • Buspirone.

Non-FDA Approved Medications

While certain medications are not specifically FDA approved for treatment of GAD, there are a number of medications that historically have been used or studied for treating GAD. Other medications that have been used or evaluated for treating GAD include:

  • SSRIs (antidepressants):
    • Citalopram.
    • Fluoxetine.
    • Sertraline.
    • Fluvoxamine (SSRI).
  • Benzodiazepines:
    • Clonazepam.
    • Lorazepam.
    • Diazepam.
  • GABA analogs:
    • Pregabalin (atypical anxiolytic, GABA analog).
    • Tiagabine.
  • Second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs):
    • Olanzapine (evidence of effectiveness is merely a trend).
    • Ziprasidone.
    • Risperidone.
    • Aripiprazole (studied as an adjunctive measure in concert with other treatment).
    • Quetiapine (atypical antipsychotic studied as an adjunctive measure in adults and geriatric patients).
  • Antihistamines:
    • Hydroxyzine (H1 receptor antagonist).
  • Vilazodone (atypical antidepressant).
  • Agomelatine (antidepressant, MT1/2 receptor agonist, 5HT2c antagonist).
  • Clonidine (noted to cause decreased blood pressure and other AEs).
  • Guanfacine (a2A receptor agonist, studied in paediatric patients with GAD).
  • Mirtazapine (atypical antidepressant having 5HT2A and 5HT2c receptor affinity).
  • Vortioxetine (multimodal antidepressant).
  • Eszopiclone (non-benzodiazepine hypnotic).
  • Tricyclic antidepressants:
    • Amitriptyline.
    • Clomipramine.
    • Doxepin.
    • Imipramine.
    • Trimipramine.
    • Desipramine.
    • Nortriptyline.
    • Protriptyline.
  • Opipramol (atypical TCA).]
  • Trazodone.
  • Monamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs):
    • Tranylcypromine.
    • Phenelzine.
  • Homeopathic preparations (discussed below, see complementary and alternative medications (CAMs))

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Pharmaceutical treatments for GAD include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).[50] SSRIs increase serotonin levels through inhibition of serotonin reuptake receptors.

FDA approved SSRIs used for this purpose include escitalopram and paroxetine. However, guidelines suggest using sertraline first due to its cost-effectiveness compared to other SSRIs used for GAD and a lower risk of withdrawal compared to SNRIs. If sertraline is found to be ineffective, then it is recommended to try another SSRI or SNRI.

Common side effects include nausea, sexual dysfunction, headache, diarrhoea, constipation, restlessness, increased risk of suicide in young adults and adolescents, among others. Sexual side effects, weight gain, and higher risk of withdrawal are more common in paroxetine than escitalopram and sertraline. In older populations or those taking concomitant medications that increase risk of bleeding, SSRIs may further increase the risk of bleeding. Overdose of an SSRI or concomitant use with another agent that causes increased levels of serotonin can result in serotonin syndrome, which can be life-threatening.

Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors

First line pharmaceutical treatments for GAD also include serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and noradrenaline to increase their levels in the CNS.

FDA approved SNRIs used for this purpose include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor). While SNRIs have similar efficacy as SSRIs, many psychiatrists prefer to use SSRIs first in the treatment of GAD The slightly higher preference for SSRIs over SNRIs as a first choice for treatment of anxiety disorders may have been influenced by the observation of poorer tolerability of the SNRIs in comparison to SSRIs in systematic reviews of studies of depressed patients.

Side effects common to both SNRIs include anxiety, restlessness, nausea, weight loss, insomnia, dizziness, drowsiness, sweating, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction and weakness. In comparison to SSRIs, the SNRIs have a higher prevalence of the side effects of insomnia, dry mouth, nausea and high blood pressure. Both SNRIs have the potential for discontinuation syndrome after abrupt cessation, which can precipitate symptoms including motor disturbances and anxiety and may require tapering. Like other serotonergic agents, SNRIs have the potential to cause serotonin syndrome, a potentially fatal systemic response to serotonergic excess that causes symptoms including agitation, restlessness, confusion, tachycardia, hypertension, mydriasis, ataxia, myoclonus, muscle rigidity, diaphoresis, diarrhoea, headache, shivering, goose bumps, high fever, seizures, arrhythmia and unconsciousness. SNRIs like SSRIs carry a black box warning for suicidal ideation, but it is generally considered that the risk of suicide in untreated depression is far higher than the risk of suicide when depression is properly treated.

Pregabalin and Gabapentin

Pregabalin (Lyrica) acts on the voltage-dependent calcium channel to decrease the release of neurotransmitters such as glutamate, norepinephrine and substance P. Its therapeutic effect appears after 1 week of use and is similar in effectiveness to lorazepam, alprazolam and venlafaxine but pregabalin has demonstrated superiority by producing more consistent therapeutic effects for psychic and somatic anxiety symptoms. Long-term trials have shown continued effectiveness without the development of tolerance and additionally, unlike benzodiazepines, it does not disrupt sleep architecture and produces less severe cognitive and psychomotor impairment. It also has a low potential for abuse and dependency and may be preferred over the benzodiazepines for these reasons. The anxiolytic effects of pregabalin appear to persist for at least six months continuous use, suggesting tolerance is less of a concern; this gives pregabalin an advantage over certain anxiolytic medications such as benzodiazepines.

Gabapentin (Neurontin), a closely related medication to pregabalin with the same mechanism of action, has also demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of GAD, though unlike pregabalin, it has not been approved specifically for this indication. Nonetheless, it is likely to be of similar usefulness in the management of this condition, and by virtue of being off-patent, it has the advantage of being significantly less expensive in comparison. In accordance, gabapentin is frequently prescribed off-label to treat GAD.

Complementary and Alternative Medicines Studied for Potential in Treating GAD

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) are widely used by individuals who suffer GAD despite having no evidence or varied evidence regarding efficacy. Efficacy trials for CAM medications often suffer from various types of bias and low quality reporting in regard to safety. In regard to efficacy, critics point out that CAM trials sometimes predicate claims of efficacy based on a comparison of a CAM against a known drug after which no difference in subjects is found by investigators and which is used to suggest an equivalence between a CAM and a drug. Because this equates a lack of evidence with the positive assertion of efficacy, a “lack of difference” assertion is not a proper claim for efficacy. Moreover, an absence of strict definitions and standards for CAM compounds further burdens the literature regarding CAM efficacy in treating GAD. CAMs academically studied for their potential in treating GAD or GAD symptoms along with a summary of academic findings are given below. What follows is a summary of academic findings. Accordingly, none of the following should be taken as offering medical guidance or an opinion as to the safety or efficacy of any of the following CAMs.

  • Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) extracts:
    • Meta analysis does not suggest efficacy of Kava Kava extracts due to few data available yielding inconclusive results or non-statistically significant results.
    • Nearly a quarter (25.8%) of subjects experienced adverse effects (AEs) from Kava Kava extracts during six (6) trials.
    • Kava Kava may cause liver toxicity.
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) extracts:
    • Small and varied studies may suggest some level of efficacy as compared to placebo or other medication; claims of efficacy are regarded as needing further evaluation.
    • Silexan is an oil derivative of Lavender studied in paediatric patients with GAD.
    • Concern exists regarding the question as to whether Silexan may cause unopposed oestrogen exposure in boys due to disruption of steroid signalling.
  • Galphimia glauca extracts:
    • While Galphima glauca extracts have been the subject of two (2) randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing Galphima glauca extracts to lorazepam, efficacy claims are regarded as “highly uncertain.”
  • Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) extracts:
    • Poor quality trials have trends that may suggest efficacy but further study is needed to establish any claim of efficacy.
  • Crataegus oxycantha and Eschscholtzia californica extracts combined with magnesium:
    • A single12-week trial of Crataegus oxycantha and Eschscholtzia californica compared to placebo has been used to suggest efficacy.
    • However, efficacy claims require confirmation studies.
    • For the minority of subjects who experienced AEs from extracts, most AEs implicated gastrointestinal tract (GIT) intolerance.
  • Echium amoneum extract:
    • A single, small trial used this extract as a supplement to fluoxetine (vs using a placebo to supplement fluoxetine); larger studies are needed to substantiate efficacy claims.
  • Gamisoyo-San:
    • Small trials of this herbal mixture compared to placebo have suggested no efficacy of the herbal mixture over placebo but further study is necessary to allow definitive conclusion of a lack of efficacy.
  • Passiflora incarnata extract:
    • Claims of efficacy or benzodiazepam equivalence are regarded as “highly uncertain.”
  • Valeriana extract:
    • A single 4-week trial suggests no effect of Valeriana extract on GAD but is regarded as “uninformative” on the topic of efficacy in view of its finding that the benzodiazepine diazepam also had no effect.
    • Further study may be warranted.

Other Possible Modalities Discussed in Literature for Potential in Treating GAD

Other modalities that have been academically studied for their potential in treating GAD or symptoms of GAD are summarised below. What follows is a summary of academic findings. Accordingly, none of the following should be taken as offering medical guidance or an opinion as to the safety or efficacy of any of the following modalities.

  • Acupuncture:
    • A single, very small trial revealed a trend toward efficacy but flaws in the trial design suggest uncertainty regarding efficacy.
  • Balneotherapy:
    • Data from a single non-blinded study suggested possible efficacy of balneotherapy as compared to paroxetine.
    • However, efficacy claims need confirmation.
  • Therapeutic massage:
    • A single, small, possibly biased study revealed inconclusive results.
  • Resistance and aerobic exercise:
    • When compared to no treatment, a single, small, potentially unrepresentative trial suggested a trend toward GAD remission and reduction of worry.
  • Chinese bloodletting:
    • When added to paroxetine, a single, small, imprecise trial that lacked a sham procedure for comparison suggested efficacy at 4-weeks.
    • However, larger trials are needed to evaluate this technique as compared to a sham procedure.
  • Floating in water:
    • When compared to no treatment, a single, imprecise, non-blinded trial suggested a trend toward efficacy (findings were statistically insignificant).
  • Swedish massage:
    • When compared to a sham procedure, a single trial showed a trend toward efficacy (i.e. findings were statistically insignificant).
  • Ayurvedic medications:
    • A single non-blinded trial was inconclusive as to whether Ayurvedic medications were effective in treating GAD.
  • Multi-faith spiritually-based intervention:
    • A single, small, non-blinded study was inconclusive regarding efficacy.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle factors including: stress management, stress reduction, relaxation, exercise, sleep hygiene, and caffeine and alcohol reduction can influence anxiety levels. Physical activity has shown to have a positive impact whereas low physical activity may be a risk factor for anxiety disorders.

Substances and Anxiety in GAD

While there are no substances that are known to cause GAD, certain substances or the withdrawal from certain substances have been implicated in promoting the experience of anxiety. For example, even while benzodiazepines may afford individuals with GAD relief from anxiety, withdrawal from benzodiazepines is associated with the experience of anxiety among other adverse events like sweating and tremor.

Tobacco withdrawal symptoms may provoke anxiety in smokers and excessive caffeine use has been linked to aggravating and maintaining anxiety.

Comorbidity

Depression

In the National Comorbidity Survey (2005), 58% of patients diagnosed with major depression were found to have an anxiety disorder; among these patients, the rate of comorbidity with GAD was 17.2%, and with panic disorder, 9.9%. Patients with a diagnosed anxiety disorder also had high rates of comorbid depression, including 22.4% of patients with social phobia, 9.4% with agoraphobia, and 2.3% with panic disorder. A longitudinal cohort study found 12% of the 972 participants had GAD comorbid with MDD. Accumulating evidence indicates that patients with comorbid depression and anxiety tend to have greater illness severity and a lower treatment response than those with either disorder alone. In addition, social function and quality of life are more greatly impaired.

For many, the symptoms of both depression and anxiety are not severe enough (i.e. are subsyndromal) to justify a primary diagnosis of either major depressive disorder (MDD) or an anxiety disorder. However, dysthymia is the most prevalent comorbid diagnosis of GAD clients. Patients can also be categorised as having mixed anxiety-depressive disorder, and they are at significantly increased risk of developing full-blown depression or anxiety.

Various explanations for the high comorbidity between GAD and depressive disorders have been suggested, including genetic pleiotropy, meaning that GAD and nonbipolar depression might represent different phenotypic expressions of a common aetiology.

Comorbidity and Treatment

Therapy has been shown to have equal efficacy in patients with GAD and patients with GAD and comorbid disorders. Patients with comorbid disorders have more severe symptoms when starting therapy but demonstrated a greater improvement than patients with simple GAD.

Pharmacological approaches i.e. the use of antidepressants must be adapted for different comorbidities. For example, serotonin reuptake inhibitors and short acting benzodiazepines (BZDs) are used for depression and anxiety. However, for patients with anxiety and substance abuse, BZDs should be avoided due to their abuse liability. CBT has been found an effective treatment since it improves symptoms of GAD and substance abuse.

Compared to the general population, patients with internalising disorders such as depression, GAD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have higher mortality rates, but die of the same age-related diseases as the population, such as heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and cancer.

GAD often coexists with conditions associated with stress, such as muscle tension and irritable bowel syndrome.

Patients with GAD can sometimes present with symptoms such as insomnia or headaches as well as pain and interpersonal problems.

Further research suggests that about 20% to 40% of individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have comorbid anxiety disorders, with GAD being the most prevalent.

Those with GAD have a lifetime comorbidity prevalence of 30% to 35% with alcohol use disorder and 25% to 30% for another substance use disorder. People with both GAD and a substance use disorder also have a higher lifetime prevalence for other comorbidities. A study found that GAD was the primary disorder in slightly more than half of the 18 participants that were comorbid with alcohol use disorder.

Epidemiology

GAD is often estimated to affect approximately 3-6% of adults and 5% of children and adolescents. Although estimates have varied to suggest a GAD prevalence of 3% in children and 10.8% in adolescents. When GAD manifests in children and adolescents, it typically begins around 8 to 9 years of age.

Estimates regarding prevalence of GAD or lifetime risk (i.e. lifetime morbid risk (LMR)) for GAD vary depending upon which criteria are used for diagnosing GAD (e.g. DSM-5 vs ICD-10) although estimates do not vary widely between diagnostic criteria. In general, ICD-10 is more inclusive than DSM-5, so estimates regarding prevalence and lifetime risk tend to be greater using ICD-10. In regard to prevalence, in a given year, about two (2%) percent of adults in the United States and Europe have been suggested to suffer GAD. However, the risk of developing GAD at any point in life has been estimated at 9.0%. Although it is possible to experience a single episode of GAD during one’s life, most people who experience GAD experience it repeatedly over the course of their lives as a chronic or ongoing condition. GAD is diagnosed twice as frequently in women as in men and is more often diagnosed in those who are separated, divorced, unemployed, widowed or have low levels of education, and among those with low socioeconomic status. African Americans have higher odds of having GAD and the disorder often manifests itself in different patterns. It has been suggested that greater prevalence of GAD in women may be because women are more likely than men to live in poverty, are more frequently the subject of discrimination, and be sexually and physically abused more often than men. In regard to the first incidence of GAD in an individual’s life course, a first manifestation of GAD usually occurs between the late teenage years and the early twenties with the median age of onset being approximately 31 and mean age of onset being 32.7. However, GAD can begin or reoccur at any point in life. Indeed, GAD is common in the elderly population.

  • US: Approximately 3.1% of people age 18 and over in a given year (9.5 million).
  • UK: 5.9% of adults were affected by GAD in 2019.
  • Australia: 3% of adults
  • Canada: 2.5%.
  • Italy: 2.9%
  • Taiwan: 0.4%.

Book: Psychotherapy in Later Life

Book Title:

Psychotherapy in Later Life.

Author(s): Rajesh R. Tampi, Brandon Yarns, Kristina F. Zdanys, and Deena J. Tampi (Editors).

Year: 2020.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Cambridge University Press.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Psychotherapy in Later Life is a practical how-to-guide for psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health workers on choosing and delivering evidence-based psychological therapies to older adults.

It covers all the main evidence-based psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), as well as specialist topics such as combining psychotherapy with pharmacological treatments, working with diverse populations and individual versus group therapy.

The World Health Organisation estimates that over the next four decades, the proportion of the world’s older adults will nearly double, from 12% to 22%, and that one in five older adults has a diagnosable mental health disorder.

Given the increasing number of older adults requiring mental health treatment, incorporating talking therapies into treatment plans is key to tackling issues related to polypharmacy, medication interactions and side effects. Written by experts in geriatric mental health, this book provides the most authoritative information on the use of psychotherapy in older adults.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Introduction

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes) and behaviours, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems. Originally, it was designed to treat depression, but its uses have been expanded to include treatment of a number of mental health conditions, including anxiety. CBT includes a number of cognitive or behaviour psychotherapies that treat defined psychopathologies using evidence-based techniques and strategies.

CBT is based on the combination of the basic principles from behavioural and cognitive psychology. It is different from historical approaches to psychotherapy, such as the psychoanalytic approach where the therapist looks for the unconscious meaning behind the behaviours and then formulates a diagnosis. Instead, CBT is a “problem-focused” and “action-oriented” form of therapy, meaning it is used to treat specific problems related to a diagnosed mental disorder. The therapist’s role is to assist the client in finding and practicing effective strategies to address the identified goals and decrease symptoms of the disorder. CBT is based on the belief that thought distortions and maladaptive behaviours play a role in the development and maintenance of psychological disorders, and that symptoms and associated distress can be reduced by teaching new information-processing skills and coping mechanisms.

When compared to psychoactive medications, review studies have found CBT alone to be as effective for treating less severe forms of depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), tics, substance abuse, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder. Some research suggests that CBT is most effective when combined with medication for treating mental disorders such as major depressive disorder. In addition, CBT is recommended as the first line of treatment for the majority of psychological disorders in children and adolescents, including aggression and conduct disorder. Researchers have found that other bona fide therapeutic interventions were equally effective for treating certain conditions in adults. Along with interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), CBT is recommended in treatment guidelines as a psychosocial treatment of choice. Psychiatry residents in the United States are mandated to receive training in psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural, and supportive psychotherapy.

Brief History

Philosophical Roots

Precursors of certain fundamental aspects of CBT have been identified in various ancient philosophical traditions, particularly Stoicism. Stoic philosophers, particularly Epictetus, believed logic could be used to identify and discard false beliefs that lead to destructive emotions, which has influenced the way modern cognitive-behavioural therapists identify cognitive distortions that contribute to depression and anxiety. For example, Aaron T. Beck’s original treatment manual for depression states, “The philosophical origins of cognitive therapy can be traced back to the Stoic philosophers”. Another example of Stoic influence on cognitive theorists is Epictetus on Albert Ellis. A key philosophical figure who also influenced the development of CBT was John Stuart Mill.

Behaviour Therapy Roots

The modern roots of CBT can be traced to the development of behaviour therapy in the early 20th century, the development of cognitive therapy in the 1960s, and the subsequent merging of the two. Groundbreaking work of behaviourism began with John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner’s studies of conditioning in 1920. Behaviourally-centred therapeutic approaches appeared as early as 1924 with Mary Cover Jones’ work dedicated to the unlearning of fears in children. These were the antecedents of the development of Joseph Wolpe’s behavioural therapy in the 1950s. It was the work of Wolpe and Watson, which was based on Ivan Pavlov’s work on learning and conditioning, that influenced Hans Eysenck and Arnold Lazarus to develop new behavioural therapy techniques based on classical conditioning.

During the 1950s and 1960s, behavioural therapy became widely utilised by researchers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa, who were inspired by the behaviourist learning theory of Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, and Clark L. Hull. In Britain, Joseph Wolpe, who applied the findings of animal experiments to his method of systematic desensitisation, applied behavioural research to the treatment of neurotic disorders. Wolpe’s therapeutic efforts were precursors to today’s fear reduction techniques. British psychologist Hans Eysenck presented behaviour therapy as a constructive alternative.

At the same time as Eysenck’s work, B. F. Skinner and his associates were beginning to have an impact with their work on operant conditioning. Skinner’s work was referred to as radical behaviourism and avoided anything related to cognition. However, Julian Rotter, in 1954, and Albert Bandura, in 1969, contributed behaviour therapy with their respective work on social learning theory, by demonstrating the effects of cognition on learning and behaviour modification. The work of the Australian Claire Weekes dealing with anxiety disorders in the 1960s was also seen as a prototype of behaviour therapy.

The emphasis on behavioural factors constituted the “first wave” of CBT.

Cognitive Therapy Roots

One of the first therapists to address cognition in psychotherapy was Alfred Adler with his notion of basic mistakes and how they contributed to creation of unhealthy or useless behavioural and life goals. Adler’s work influenced the work of Albert Ellis, who developed the earliest cognitive-based psychotherapy, known today as rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT). Ellis also credits Abraham Low as a founder of cognitive behavioural therapy.

Around the same time that rational emotive therapy, as it was known then, was being developed, Aaron T. Beck was conducting free association sessions in his psychoanalytic practice. During these sessions, Beck noticed that thoughts were not as unconscious as Freud had previously theorised, and that certain types of thinking may be the culprits of emotional distress. It was from this hypothesis that Beck developed cognitive therapy, and called these thoughts “automatic thoughts”. Beck has been referred to as “the father of cognitive behavioural therapy.”

It was these two therapies, rational emotive therapy and cognitive therapy, that started the “second wave” of CBT, which was the emphasis on cognitive factors.

Behaviour and Cognitive Therapies Merge – “Third Wave” CBT

Although the early behavioural approaches were successful in many of the neurotic disorders, they had little success in treating depression. Behaviourism was also losing in popularity due to the so-called “cognitive revolution”. The therapeutic approaches of Albert Ellis and Aaron T. Beck gained popularity among behaviour therapists, despite the earlier behaviourist rejection of “mentalistic” concepts like thoughts and cognitions. Both of these systems included behavioural elements and interventions and primarily concentrated on problems in the present.

In initial studies, cognitive therapy was often contrasted with behavioural treatments to see which was most effective. During the 1980s and 1990s, cognitive and behavioural techniques were merged into cognitive behavioural therapy. Pivotal to this merging was the successful development of treatments for panic disorder by David M. Clark in the UK and David H. Barlow in the US.

Over time, cognitive behaviour therapy came to be known not only as a therapy, but as an umbrella term for all cognitive-based psychotherapies. These therapies include, but are not limited to, rational emotive therapy (RET), cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, metacognitive therapy, metacognitive training, reality therapy/choice theory, cognitive processing therapy, EMDR, and multimodal therapy. All of these therapies are a blending of cognitive- and behaviour-based elements.

This blending of theoretical and technical foundations from both behaviour and cognitive therapies constituted the “third wave” of CBT. The most prominent therapies of this third wave are dialectical behaviour therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy.

Despite increasing popularity of “third-wave” treatment approaches, reviews of studies reveal there may be no difference in the effectiveness compared with “non-third wave” CBT for the treatment of depression.

Description

Mainstream cognitive behavioural therapy assumes that changing maladaptive thinking leads to change in behaviour and affect, but recent variants emphasize changes in one’s relationship to maladaptive thinking rather than changes in thinking itself. The goal of cognitive behavioural therapy is not to diagnose a person with a particular disease, but to look at the person as a whole and decide what can be altered.

Cognitive Distortions

Therapists or computer-based programmes use CBT techniques to help people challenge their patterns and beliefs and replace errors in thinking, known as cognitive distortions, such as “overgeneralising, magnifying negatives, minimising positives and catastrophising” with “more realistic and effective thoughts, thus decreasing emotional distress and self-defeating behaviour”. Cognitive distortions can be either a pseudo-discrimination belief or an over-generalisation of something. CBT techniques may also be used to help individuals take a more open, mindful, and aware posture toward cognitive distortions so as to diminish their impact.

Skills

Mainstream CBT helps individuals replace “maladaptive… coping skills, cognitions, emotions and behaviours with more adaptive ones”, by challenging an individual’s way of thinking and the way that they react to certain habits or behaviours, but there is still controversy about the degree to which these traditional cognitive elements account for the effects seen with CBT over and above the earlier behavioural elements such as exposure and skills training.

Phases in Therapy

CBT can be seen as having six phases:

  1. Assessment or psychological assessment;
  2. Reconceptualisation;
  3. Skills acquisition;
  4. Skills consolidation and application training;
  5. Generalisation and maintenance;
  6. Post-treatment assessment follow-up.

These steps are based on a system created by Kanfer and Saslow. After identifying the behaviours that need changing, whether they be in excess or deficit, and treatment has occurred, the psychologist must identify whether or not the intervention succeeded. For example, “If the goal was to decrease the behaviour, then there should be a decrease relative to the baseline. If the critical behaviour remains at or above the baseline, then the intervention has failed.”

The steps in the assessment phase include:

  • Step 1: Identify critical behaviours.
  • Step 2: Determine whether critical behaviours are excesses or deficits.
  • Step 3: Evaluate critical behaviours for frequency, duration, or intensity (obtain a baseline).
  • Step 4: If excess, attempt to decrease frequency, duration, or intensity of behaviours; if deficits, attempt to increase behaviours.

The re-conceptualisation phase makes up much of the “cognitive” portion of CBT. A summary of modern CBT approaches is given by Hofmann.

Delivery Protocols

There are different protocols for delivering cognitive behavioural therapy, with important similarities among them. Use of the term CBT may refer to different interventions, including “self-instructions (e.g. distraction, imagery, motivational self-talk), relaxation and/or biofeedback, development of adaptive coping strategies (e.g. minimising negative or self-defeating thoughts), changing maladaptive beliefs about pain, and goal setting”. Treatment is sometimes manualised, with brief, direct, and time-limited treatments for individual psychological disorders that are specific technique-driven. CBT is used in both individual and group settings, and the techniques are often adapted for self-help applications. Some clinicians and researchers are cognitively oriented (e.g. cognitive restructuring), while others are more behaviourally oriented (e.g. in vivo exposure therapy). Interventions such as imaginal exposure therapy combine both approaches.

Related Techniques

CBT may be delivered in conjunction with a variety of diverse but related techniques such as exposure therapy, stress inoculation, cognitive processing therapy, cognitive therapy, metacognitive therapy, metacognitive training, relaxation training, dialectical behaviour therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. Some practitioners promote a form of mindful cognitive therapy which includes a greater emphasis on self-awareness as part of the therapeutic process.

Medical Application

In adults, CBT has been shown to have effectiveness and a role in the treatment plans for anxiety disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, depression, eating disorders, chronic low back pain, personality disorders, psychosis, schizophrenia, substance use disorders, in the adjustment, depression, and anxiety associated with fibromyalgia, and with post-spinal cord injuries.

In children or adolescents, CBT is an effective part of treatment plans for anxiety disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, depression and suicidality, eating disorders and obesity, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as tic disorders, trichotillomania, and other repetitive behaviour disorders. CBT-SP, an adaptation of CBT for suicide prevention (SP), was specifically designed for treating youths who are severely depressed and who have recently attempted suicide within the past 90 days, and was found to be effective, feasible, and acceptable. CBT has also been shown to be effective for post traumatic stress disorder in very young children (3 to 6 years of age). Reviews found “low quality” evidence that CBT may be more effective than other psychotherapies in reducing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents. CBT has also been applied to a variety of childhood disorders, including depressive disorders and various anxiety disorders.

CBT combined with hypnosis and distraction reduces self-reported pain in children.

Cochrane reviews have found no evidence that CBT is effective for tinnitus, although there appears to be an effect on management of associated depression and quality of life in this condition. Other recent Cochrane Reviews found no convincing evidence that CBT training helps foster care providers manage difficult behaviours in the youths under their care,[79] nor was it helpful in treating people who abuse their intimate partners.

According to a 2004 review by INSERM of three methods, cognitive behavioural therapy was either “proven” or “presumed” to be an effective therapy on several specific mental disorders. According to the study, CBT was effective at treating schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress, anxiety disorders, bulimia, anorexia, personality disorders and alcohol dependency.

Some meta-analyses find CBT more effective than psychodynamic therapy and equal to other therapies in treating anxiety and depression.

Computerized CBT (CCBT) has been proven to be effective by randomised controlled and other trials in treating depression and anxiety disorders, including children, as well as insomnia. Some research has found similar effectiveness to an intervention of informational websites and weekly telephone calls. CCBT was found to be equally effective as face-to-face CBT in adolescent anxiety and insomnia.

Criticism of CBT sometimes focuses on implementations (such as the UK IAPT) which may result initially in low quality therapy being offered by poorly trained practitioners. However, evidence supports the effectiveness of CBT for anxiety and depression. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a specialist branch of CBT (sometimes referred to as contextual CBT). ACT uses mindfulness and acceptance interventions and has been found to have a greater longevity in therapeutic outcomes. In a study with anxiety, CBT and ACT improved similarly across all outcomes from pre-to post-treatment. However, during a 12-month follow-up, ACT proved to be more effective, showing that it is a highly viable lasting treatment model for anxiety disorders.

Evidence suggests that the addition of hypnotherapy as an adjunct to CBT improves treatment efficacy for a variety of clinical issues.

CBT has been applied in both clinical and non-clinical environments to treat disorders such as personality conditions and behavioural problems. A systematic review of CBT in depression and anxiety disorders concluded that “CBT delivered in primary care, especially including computer- or Internet-based self-help programmes, is potentially more effective than usual care and could be delivered effectively by primary care therapists.”

Emerging evidence suggests a possible role for CBT in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); hypochondriasis; coping with the impact of multiple sclerosis; sleep disturbances related to aging; dysmenorrhea; and bipolar disorder, but more study is needed and results should be interpreted with caution. CBT can have a therapeutic effects on easing symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with Alzheimer’s disease. CBT has been studied as an aid in the treatment of anxiety associated with stuttering. Initial studies have shown CBT to be effective in reducing social anxiety in adults who stutter, but not in reducing stuttering frequency.

In the case of people with metastatic breast cancer, data is limited but CBT and other psychosocial interventions might help with psychological outcomes and pain management.

There is some evidence that CBT is superior in the long-term to benzodiazepines and the nonbenzodiazepines in the treatment and management of insomnia. CBT has been shown to be moderately effective for treating chronic fatigue syndrome.

In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT in the treatment plans for a number of mental health difficulties, including posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia nervosa, and clinical depression.

Depression

Cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown as an effective treatment for clinical depression. The American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines (April 2000) indicated that, among psychotherapeutic approaches, cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy had the best-documented efficacy for treatment of major depressive disorder. One etiological theory of depression is Aaron T. Beck’s cognitive theory of depression. His theory states that depressed people think the way they do because their thinking is biased towards negative interpretations. According to this theory, depressed people acquire a negative schema of the world in childhood and adolescence as an effect of stressful life events, and the negative schema is activated later in life when the person encounters similar situations.

Beck also described a negative cognitive triad. The cognitive triad is made up of the depressed individual’s negative evaluations of themselves, the world, and the future. Beck suggested that these negative evaluations derive from the negative schemata and cognitive biases of the person. According to this theory, depressed people have views such as “I never do a good job”, “It is impossible to have a good day”, and “things will never get better”. A negative schema helps give rise to the cognitive bias, and the cognitive bias helps fuel the negative schema. Beck further proposed that depressed people often have the following cognitive biases: arbitrary inference, selective abstraction, over-generalisation, magnification, and minimisation. These cognitive biases are quick to make negative, generalised, and personal inferences of the self, thus fuelling the negative schema.

A 2001 meta-analysis comparing CBT and psychodynamic psychotherapy suggested the approaches were equally effective in the short term. In contrast, a 2013 meta-analyses suggested that CBT, interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving therapy outperformed psychodynamic psychotherapy and behavioural activation in the treatment of depression.

Anxiety Disorders

CBT has been shown to be effective in the treatment of adults with anxiety disorders. A basic concept in some CBT treatments used in anxiety disorders is in vivo exposure. CBT-exposure therapy refers to the direct confrontation of feared objects, activities, or situations by a patient. Results from a 2018 systematic review found a high strength of evidence that CBT-exposure therapy can reduce PTSD symptoms and lead to the loss of a PTSD diagnosis.

For example, a woman with PTSD who fears the location where she was assaulted may be assisted by her therapist in going to that location and directly confronting those fears. Likewise, a person with social anxiety disorder who fears public speaking may be instructed to directly confront those fears by giving a speech. This “two-factor” model is often credited to O. Hobart Mowrer. Through exposure to the stimulus, this harmful conditioning can be “unlearned” (referred to as extinction and habituation). Studies have provided evidence that when examining animals and humans that glucocorticoids may possibly lead to a more successful extinction learning during exposure therapy. For instance, glucocorticoids can prevent aversive learning episodes from being retrieved and heighten reinforcement of memory traces creating a non-fearful reaction in feared situations. A combination of glucocorticoids and exposure therapy may be a better improved treatment for treating patients with anxiety disorders.

A 2015 Cochrane review also found that CBT for symptomatic management of non-specific chest pain is probably effective in the short term. However, the findings were limited by small trials and the evidence was considered of questionable quality.

Bipolar Disorder

Many studies show CBT, combined with pharmacotherapy, is effective on improving depressive symptoms, mania severity and psychosocial functioning with mild to moderate effects, and that it is better than medication alone.

Psychosis

In long-term psychoses, CBT is used to complement medication and is adapted to meet individual needs. Interventions particularly related to these conditions include exploring reality testing, changing delusions and hallucinations, examining factors which precipitate relapse, and managing relapses. Meta-analyses confirm the effectiveness of metacognitive training (MCT) for the improvement of positive symptoms (e.g., delusions).

Schizophrenia

A Cochrane review reported CBT had “no effect on long‐term risk of relapse” and no additional effect above standard care. A 2015 systematic review investigated the effects of CBT compared with other psychosocial therapies for people with schizophrenia and determined that there is no clear advantage over other, often less expensive, interventions but acknowledged that better quality evidence is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.

With Older Adults

CBT is used to help people of all ages, but the therapy should be adjusted based on the age of the patient with whom the therapist is dealing. Older individuals in particular have certain characteristics that need to be acknowledged and the therapy altered to account for these differences thanks to age. Of the small number of studies examining CBT for the management of depression in older people, there is currently no strong support.

Prevention of Mental Illness

For anxiety disorders, use of CBT with people at risk has significantly reduced the number of episodes of generalised anxiety disorder and other anxiety symptoms, and also given significant improvements in explanatory style, hopelessness, and dysfunctional attitudes. In another study, 3% of the group receiving the CBT intervention developed generalised anxiety disorder by 12 months postintervention compared with 14% in the control group. Subthreshold panic disorder sufferers were found to significantly benefit from use of CBT. Use of CBT was found to significantly reduce social anxiety prevalence.

For depressive disorders, a stepped-care intervention (watchful waiting, CBT and medication if appropriate) achieved a 50% lower incidence rate in a patient group aged 75 or older. Another depression study found a neutral effect compared to personal, social, and health education, and usual school provision, and included a comment on potential for increased depression scores from people who have received CBT due to greater self recognition and acknowledgement of existing symptoms of depression and negative thinking styles. A further study also saw a neutral result. A meta-study of the Coping with Depression course, a cognitive behavioural intervention delivered by a psychoeducational method, saw a 38% reduction in risk of major depression.

For people at risk of psychosis, in 2014 the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended preventive CBT.

Pathological and Problem Gambling

CBT is also used for pathological and problem gambling. The percentage of people who problem gamble is 1-3% around the world. Cognitive behavioural therapy develops skills for relapse prevention and someone can learn to control their mind and manage high-risk cases. There is evidence of efficacy of CBT for treating pathological and problem gambling at immediate follow up, however the longer term efficacy of CBT for it is currently unknown.

Smoking Cessation

CBT looks at the habit of smoking cigarettes as a learned behaviour, which later evolves into a coping strategy to handle daily stressors. Because smoking is often easily accessible, and quickly allows the user to feel good, it can take precedence over other coping strategies, and eventually work its way into everyday life during non-stressful events as well. CBT aims to target the function of the behaviour, as it can vary between individuals, and works to inject other coping mechanisms in place of smoking. CBT also aims to support individuals suffering from strong cravings, which are a major reported reason for relapse during treatment.

In a 2008 controlled study out of Stanford University School of Medicine, suggested CBT may be an effective tool to help maintain abstinence. The results of 304 random adult participants were tracked over the course of one year. During this program, some participants were provided medication, CBT, 24 hour phone support, or some combination of the three methods. At 20 weeks, the participants who received CBT had a 45% abstinence rate, versus non-CBT participants, who had a 29% abstinence rate. Overall, the study concluded that emphasizing cognitive and behavioural strategies to support smoking cessation can help individuals build tools for long term smoking abstinence.

Mental health history can affect the outcomes of treatment. Individuals with a history of depressive disorders had a lower rate of success when using CBT alone to combat smoking addiction.

A Cochrane review was unable to find evidence of any difference between CBT and hypnosis for smoking cessation. While this may be evidence of no effect, further research may uncover an effect of CBT for smoking cessation.

Substance Abuse Disorders

Studies have shown CBT to be an effective treatment for substance abuse. For individuals with substance abuse disorders, CBT aims to reframe maladaptive thoughts, such as denial, minimising and catastrophising thought patterns, with healthier narratives. Specific techniques include identifying potential triggers and developing coping mechanisms to manage high-risk situations. Research has shown CBT to be particularly effective when combined with other therapy-based treatments or medication.

Eating Disorders

Though many forms of treatment can support individuals with eating disorders, CBT is proven to be a more effective treatment than medications and interpersonal psychotherapy alone. CBT aims to combat major causes of distress such as negative cognitions surrounding body weight, shape and size. CBT therapists also work with individuals to regulate strong emotions and thoughts that lead to dangerous compensatory behaviours. CBT is the first line of treatment for Bulimia Nervosa, and Eating Disorder Non-Specific. While there is evidence to support the efficacy of CBT for bulimia nervosa and binging, the evidence is somewhat variable and limited by small study sizes.

Internet Addiction

Research has identified Internet addiction as a new clinical disorder that causes relational, occupational, and social problems. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been suggested as the treatment of choice for Internet addiction, and addiction recovery in general has used CBT as part of treatment planning.

Prevention of Occupational Stress

A Cochrane review of interventions aimed at preventing psychological stress in healthcare workers found that CBT was more effective than no intervention but no more effective than alternative stress-reduction interventions.

With Autistic Adults

Emerging evidence for cognitive behavioural interventions aimed at reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder in autistic adults without intellectual disability has been identified through a systematic review. While the research was focused on adults, cognitive behavioural interventions have also been beneficial to autistic children.

Access and Delivery of CBT

Therapist

A typical CBT programme would consist of face-to-face sessions between patient and therapist, made up of 6-18 sessions of around an hour each with a gap of 1-3 weeks between sessions. This initial programme might be followed by some booster sessions, for instance after one month and three months. CBT has also been found to be effective if patient and therapist type in real time to each other over computer links.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is most closely allied with the scientist-practitioner model in which clinical practice and research is informed by a scientific perspective, clear operationalisation of the problem, and an emphasis on measurement, including measuring changes in cognition and behaviour and in the attainment of goals. These are often met through “homework” assignments in which the patient and the therapist work together to craft an assignment to complete before the next session. The completion of these assignments – which can be as simple as a person suffering from depression attending some kind of social event – indicates a dedication to treatment compliance and a desire to change. The therapists can then logically gauge the next step of treatment based on how thoroughly the patient completes the assignment. Effective cognitive behavioural therapy is dependent on a therapeutic alliance between the healthcare practitioner and the person seeking assistance. Unlike many other forms of psychotherapy, the patient is very involved in CBT. For example, an anxious patient may be asked to talk to a stranger as a homework assignment, but if that is too difficult, he or she can work out an easier assignment first. The therapist needs to be flexible and willing to listen to the patient rather than acting as an authority figure.

Computerised or Internet-Delivered

Although computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT) has been a topic of sustained controversy, it has been described by NICE as a “generic term for delivering CBT via an interactive computer interface delivered by a personal computer, internet, or interactive voice response system”, instead of face-to-face with a human therapist. It is also known as internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy (ICBT). CCBT has potential to improve access to evidence-based therapies, and to overcome the prohibitive costs and lack of availability sometimes associated with retaining a human therapist. In this context, it is important not to confuse CBT with ‘computer-based training’, which nowadays is more commonly referred to as e-Learning.

CCBT has been found in meta-studies to be cost-effective and often cheaper than usual care, including for anxiety. Studies have shown that individuals with social anxiety and depression experienced improvement with online CBT-based methods. A review of current CCBT research in the treatment of OCD in children found this interface to hold great potential for future treatment of OCD in youths and adolescent populations. Additionally, most internet interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder use CCBT. CCBT is also predisposed to treating mood disorders amongst non-heterosexual populations, who may avoid face-to-face therapy from fear of stigma. However presently CCBT programmes seldom cater to these populations.

A key issue in CCBT use is low uptake and completion rates, even when it has been clearly made available and explained. CCBT completion rates and treatment efficacy have been found in some studies to be higher when use of CCBT is supported personally, with supporters not limited only to therapists, than when use is in a self-help form alone. Another approach to improving the uptake and completion rate, as well as the treatment outcome, is to design software that supports the formation of a strong therapeutic alliance between the user and the technology.

In February 2006 NICE recommended that CCBT be made available for use within the NHS across England and Wales for patients presenting with mild-to-moderate depression, rather than immediately opting for antidepressant medication, and CCBT is made available by some health systems. The 2009 NICE guideline recognised that there are likely to be a number of computerized CBT products that are useful to patients, but removed endorsement of any specific product.

A relatively new avenue of research is the combination of artificial intelligence and CCBT. It has been proposed to use modern technology to create CCBT that simulates face-to-face therapy. This might be achieved in cognitive behaviour therapy for a specific disorder using the comprehensive domain knowledge of CBT. One area where this has been attempted is the specific domain area of social anxiety in those who stutter.

Smartphone App-Delivered

Another new method of access is the use of mobile app or smartphone applications to deliver self-help or guided CBT. Technology companies are developing mobile-based artificial intelligence chatbot applications in delivering CBT as an early intervention to support mental health, to build psychological resilience and to promote emotional well-being. Artificial intelligence (AI) text-based conversational application delivered securely and privately over smartphone devices have the ability to scale globally and offer contextual and always-available support. Active research is underway including real world data studies that measure effectiveness and engagement of text-based smartphone chatbot apps for delivery of CBT using a text-based conversational interface.

Reading Self-Help Materials

Enabling patients to read self-help CBT guides has been shown to be effective by some studies. However one study found a negative effect in patients who tended to ruminate, and another meta-analysis found that the benefit was only significant when the self-help was guided (e.g. by a medical professional).

Group Educational Course

Patient participation in group courses has been shown to be effective. In a meta-analysis reviewing evidence-based treatment of OCD in children, individual CBT was found to be more efficacious than group CBT.

Types

BCBT

Brief cognitive behavioural therapy (BCBT) is a form of CBT which has been developed for situations in which there are time constraints on the therapy sessions. BCBT takes place over a couple of sessions that can last up to 12 accumulated hours by design. This technique was first implemented and developed on soldiers overseas in active duty by David M. Rudd to prevent suicide. Breakdown of treatment:

  • Orientation:
    • Commitment to treatment.
    • Crisis response and safety planning.
    • Means restriction.
    • Survival kit.
    • Reasons for living card.
    • Model of suicidality.
    • Treatment journal.
    • Lessons learned.
  • Skill focus:
    • Skill development worksheets.
    • Coping cards.
    • Demonstration.
    • Practice.
    • Skill refinement.
  • Relapse prevention:
    • Skill generalisation.
    • Skill refinement.

Cognitive Emotional Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive emotional behavioural therapy (CEBT) is a form of CBT developed initially for individuals with eating disorders but now used with a range of problems including anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anger problems. It combines aspects of CBT and dialectical behavioural therapy and aims to improve understanding and tolerance of emotions in order to facilitate the therapeutic process. It is frequently used as a “pre-treatment” to prepare and better equip individuals for longer-term therapy.

Structured Cognitive Behavioural Training

Structured cognitive behavioural training (SCBT) is a cognitive-based process with core philosophies that draw heavily from CBT. Like CBT, SCBT asserts that behaviour is inextricably related to beliefs, thoughts and emotions. SCBT also builds on core CBT philosophy by incorporating other well-known modalities in the fields of behavioural health and psychology: most notably, Albert Ellis’s rational emotive behaviour therapy. SCBT differs from CBT in two distinct ways. First, SCBT is delivered in a highly regimented format. Second, SCBT is a predetermined and finite training process that becomes personalized by the input of the participant. SCBT is designed with the intention to bring a participant to a specific result in a specific period of time. SCBT has been used to challenge addictive behaviour, particularly with substances such as tobacco, alcohol and food, and to manage diabetes and subdue stress and anxiety. SCBT has also been used in the field of criminal psychology in the effort to reduce recidivism.

Moral Reconation Therapy

Moral reconation therapy, a type of CBT used to help felons overcome antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), slightly decreases the risk of further offending. It is generally implemented in a group format because of the risk of offenders with ASPD being given one-on-one therapy reinforces narcissistic behavioural characteristics, and can be used in correctional or outpatient settings. Groups usually meet weekly for two to six months.

Stress Inoculation Training

This type of therapy uses a blend of cognitive, behavioural and some humanistic training techniques to target the stressors of the client. This usually is used to help clients better cope with their stress or anxiety after stressful events. This is a three-phase process that trains the client to use skills that they already have to better adapt to their current stressors. The first phase is an interview phase that includes psychological testing, client self-monitoring, and a variety of reading materials. This allows the therapist to individually tailor the training process to the client. Clients learn how to categorize problems into emotion-focused or problem-focused, so that they can better treat their negative situations. This phase ultimately prepares the client to eventually confront and reflect upon their current reactions to stressors, before looking at ways to change their reactions and emotions in relation to their stressors. The focus is conceptualisation.

The second phase emphasizes the aspect of skills acquisition and rehearsal that continues from the earlier phase of conceptualisation. The client is taught skills that help them cope with their stressors. These skills are then practised in the space of therapy. These skills involve self-regulation, problem-solving, interpersonal communication skills, etc.

The third and final phase is the application and following through of the skills learned in the training process. This gives the client opportunities to apply their learned skills to a wide range of stressors. Activities include role-playing, imagery, modelling, etc. In the end, the client will have been trained on a preventive basis to inoculate personal, chronic, and future stressors by breaking down their stressors into problems they will address in long-term, short-term, and intermediate coping goals.

Activity-Guided CBT: Group-Knitting

A newly developed group therapy model based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) integrates knitting into the therapeutic process and has been proven to yield reliable and promising results. The foundation for this novel approach to CBT is the frequently emphasized notion that therapy success depends on the embeddedness of the therapy method in the patients’ natural routine. Similar to standard group-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, patients meet once a week in a group of 10 to 15 patients and knit together under the instruction of a trained psychologist or mental health professional. Central for the therapy is the patient’s imaginative ability to assign each part of the wool to a certain thought. During the therapy, the wool is carefully knitted, creating a knitted piece of any form. This therapeutic process teaches the patient to meaningfully align thought, by (physically) creating a coherent knitted piece. Moreover, since CBT emphasizes the behaviour as a result of cognition, the knitting illustrates how thoughts (which are tried to be imaginary tight to the wool) materialise into the reality surrounding us.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy

Mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy (MCBH) is a form of CBT focusing on awareness in reflective approach with addressing of subconscious tendencies. It is more the process that contains basically three phases that are used for achieving wanted goals.

Unified Protocol

The Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders (UP) is a form of CBT, developed by David H. Barlow and researchers at Boston University, that can be applied to a range of depression and anxiety disorders. The rationale is that anxiety and depression disorders often occur together due to common underlying causes and can efficiently be treated together.

The UP includes a common set of components:

  • Psycho-education.
  • Cognitive reappraisal.
  • Emotion regulation.
  • Changing behaviour.

The UP has been shown to produce equivalent results to single-diagnosis protocols for specific disorders, such as OCD and social anxiety disorder. Several studies have shown that the UP is easier to disseminate as compared to single-diagnosis protocols.

Criticisms

Relative Effectiveness

The research conducted for CBT has been a topic of sustained controversy. While some researchers write that CBT is more effective than other treatments, many other researchers and practitioners have questioned the validity of such claims. For example, one study determined CBT to be superior to other treatments in treating anxiety and depression. However, researchers responding directly to that study conducted a re-analysis and found no evidence of CBT being superior to other bona fide treatments, and conducted an analysis of thirteen other CBT clinical trials and determined that they failed to provide evidence of CBT superiority. In cases where CBT has been reported to be statistically better than other psychological interventions in terms of primary outcome measures, effect sizes were small and suggested that those differences were clinically meaningless and insignificant. Moreover, on secondary outcomes (i.e. measures of general functioning) no significant differences have been typically found between CBT and other treatments.

A major criticism has been that clinical studies of CBT efficacy (or any psychotherapy) are not double-blind (i.e. either the subjects or the therapists in psychotherapy studies are not blind to the type of treatment). They may be single-blinded, i.e. the rater may not know the treatment the patient received, but neither the patients nor the therapists are blinded to the type of therapy given (two out of three of the persons involved in the trial, i.e., all of the persons involved in the treatment, are unblinded). The patient is an active participant in correcting negative distorted thoughts, thus quite aware of the treatment group they are in.

The importance of double-blinding was shown in a meta-analysis that examined the effectiveness of CBT when placebo control and blindedness were factored in. Pooled data from published trials of CBT in schizophrenia, major depressive disorder (MDD), and bipolar disorder that used controls for non-specific effects of intervention were analysed. This study concluded that CBT is no better than non-specific control interventions in the treatment of schizophrenia and does not reduce relapse rates; treatment effects are small in treatment studies of MDD, and it is not an effective treatment strategy for prevention of relapse in bipolar disorder. For MDD, the authors note that the pooled effect size was very low. Nevertheless, the methodological processes used to select the studies in the previously mentioned meta-analysis and the worth of its findings have been called into question.

Declining Effectiveness

Additionally, a 2015 meta-analysis revealed that the positive effects of CBT on depression have been declining since 1977. The overall results showed two different declines in effect sizes: 1) an overall decline between 1977 and 2014, and 2) a steeper decline between 1995 and 2014. Additional sub-analysis revealed that CBT studies where therapists in the test group were instructed to adhere to the Beck CBT manual had a steeper decline in effect sizes since 1977 than studies where therapists in the test group were instructed to use CBT without a manual. The authors reported that they were unsure why the effects were declining but did list inadequate therapist training, failure to adhere to a manual, lack of therapist experience, and patients’ hope and faith in its efficacy waning as potential reasons. The authors did mention that the current study was limited to depressive disorders only.

High Drop-Out Rates

Furthermore, other researchers write that CBT studies have high drop-out rates compared to other treatments. CBT drop out rates were found to be 17% higher than other therapies in one meta-analysis. This high drop-out rate is also evident in the treatment of several disorders, particularly the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, which is commonly treated with CBT. Those treated with CBT have a high chance of dropping out of therapy before completion and reverting to their anorexia behaviours.

Other researchers conducting an analysis of treatments for youths who self-injure found similar drop-out rates in CBT and DBT groups. In this study, the researchers analysed several clinical trials that measured the efficacy of CBT administered to youths who self-injure. The researchers concluded that none of them were found to be efficacious.

Philosophical Concerns with CBT Methods

The methods employed in CBT research have not been the only criticisms; some individuals have called its theory and therapy into question.

Slife and Williams write that one of the hidden assumptions in CBT is that of determinism, or the absence of free will. They argue that CBT holds that external stimuli from the environment enter the mind, causing different thoughts that cause emotional states: nowhere in CBT theory is agency, or free will, accounted for.

Another criticism of CBT theory, especially as applied to major depressive disorder (MDD), is that it confounds the symptoms of the disorder with its causes.

Side Effects

CBT is generally regarded as having very few if any side effects. Calls have been made by some for more appraisal of possible side effects of CBT. Many randomised trials of psychological interventions like CBT do not monitor potential harms to the patient. In contrast, randomised trials of pharmacological interventions are much more likely to take adverse effects into consideration.

However, a 2017 meta-analysis revealed that adverse events are not common in children receiving CBT and, furthermore, that CBT is associated with fewer dropouts than either placebo or medications. Nevertheless, CBT therapists do sometimes report ‘unwanted events’ and side effects in their outpatients with “negative wellbeing/distress” being the most frequent.

Socio-Political Concerns

The writer and group analyst Farhad Dalal questions the socio-political assumptions behind the introduction of CBT. According to one reviewer, Dalal connects the rise of CBT with “the parallel rise of neoliberalism, with its focus on marketization, efficiency, quantification and managerialism”, and he questions the scientific basis of CBT, suggesting that “the ‘science’ of psychological treatment is often less a scientific than a political contest”. In his book, Dalal also questions the ethical basis of CBT.

Society and Culture

The UK’s National Health Service announced in 2008 that more therapists would be trained to provide CBT at government expense as part of an initiative called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). The NICE said that CBT would become the mainstay of treatment for non-severe depression, with medication used only in cases where CBT had failed. Therapists complained that the data does not fully support the attention and funding CBT receives. Psychotherapist and professor Andrew Samuels stated that this constitutes “a coup, a power play by a community that has suddenly found itself on the brink of corralling an enormous amount of money … Everyone has been seduced by CBT’s apparent cheapness.” The UK Council for Psychotherapy issued a press release in 2012 saying that the IAPT’s policies were undermining traditional psychotherapy and criticised proposals that would limit some approved therapies to CBT, claiming that they restricted patients to “a watered down version of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), often delivered by very lightly trained staff”.

The NICE also recommends offering CBT to people suffering from schizophrenia, as well as those at risk of suffering from a psychotic episode.

What is Cognitive Therapy?

Introduction

Cognitive therapy (CT) is a type of psychotherapy developed by American psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck. CT is one of the therapeutic approaches within the larger group of cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT) and was first expounded by Beck in the 1960s.

CT is based on the cognitive model, which states that thoughts, feelings and behaviour are all connected, and that individuals can move toward overcoming difficulties and meeting their goals by identifying and changing unhelpful or inaccurate thinking, problematic behaviour, and distressing emotional responses. This involves the individual working collaboratively with the therapist to develop skills for testing and modifying beliefs, identifying distorted thinking, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviours. A tailored cognitive case conceptualisation is developed by the cognitive therapist as a roadmap to understand the individual’s internal reality, select appropriate interventions and identify areas of distress.

Brief History

Becoming disillusioned with long-term psychodynamic approaches based on gaining insight into unconscious emotions and drives, Beck came to the conclusion that the way in which his patients perceived, interpreted and attributed meaning in their daily lives – a process scientifically known as cognition – was a key to therapy. Albert Ellis had been working on similar ideas since the 1950s (Ellis, 1956). He called his approach Rational Therapy (RT) at first, then Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) and later Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).

Beck outlined his approach in Depression: Causes and Treatment in 1967. He later expanded his focus to include anxiety disorders, in Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders in 1976, and other disorders and problems. He also introduced a focus on the underlying “schema” – the fundamental underlying ways in which people process information – about the self, the world or the future.

The new cognitive approach came into conflict with the behaviourism ascendant at the time, which denied that talk of mental causes was scientific or meaningful, rather than simply assessing stimuli and behavioural responses. However, the 1970s saw a general “cognitive revolution” in psychology. Behavioural modification techniques and cognitive therapy techniques became joined together, giving rise to cognitive behavioural therapy. Although cognitive therapy has always included some behavioural components, advocates of Beck’s particular approach seek to maintain and establish its integrity as a distinct, clearly standardised form of cognitive behavioural therapy in which the cognitive shift is the key mechanism of change.

Precursors of certain fundamental aspects of cognitive therapy have been identified in various ancient philosophical traditions, particularly Stoicism. For example, Beck’s original treatment manual for depression states, “The philosophical origins of cognitive therapy can be traced back to the Stoic philosophers”.

As cognitive therapy continued to grow in popularity, the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, a non-profit organisation, was created to accredit cognitive therapists, create a forum for members to share emerging research and interventions, and to educate consumer regarding cognitive therapy and related mental health issues.

Basis

Therapy may consist of testing the assumptions which one makes and looking for new information that could help shift the assumptions in a way that leads to different emotional or behavioral reactions. Change may begin by targeting thoughts (to change emotion and behavior), behavior (to change feelings and thoughts), or the individual’s goals (by identifying thoughts, feelings or behavior that conflict with the goals). Beck initially focused on depression and developed a list of “errors” (cognitive distortion) in thinking that he proposed could maintain depression, including arbitrary inference, selective abstraction, over-generalization, and magnification (of negatives) and minimization (of positives).

As an example of how CT might work: Having made a mistake at work, a man may believe, “I’m useless and can’t do anything right at work.” He may then focus on the mistake (which he takes as evidence that his belief is true), and his thoughts about being “useless” are likely to lead to negative emotion (frustration, sadness, hopelessness). Given these thoughts and feelings, he may then begin to avoid challenges at work, which is behaviour that could provide even more evidence for him that his belief is true. As a result, any adaptive response and further constructive consequences become unlikely, and he may focus even more on any mistakes he may make, which serve to reinforce the original belief of being “useless.” In therapy, this example could be identified as a self-fulfilling prophecy or “problem cycle,” and the efforts of the therapist and patient would be directed at working together to explore and shift this cycle.

People who are working with a cognitive therapist often practice the use of more flexible ways to think and respond, learning to ask themselves whether their thoughts are completely true, and whether those thoughts are helping them to meet their goals. Thoughts that do not meet this description may then be shifted to something more accurate or helpful, leading to more positive emotion, more desirable behaviour, and movement toward the person’s goals. Cognitive therapy takes a skill-building approach, where the therapist helps the person to learn and practice these skills independently, eventually “becoming his or her own therapist.”

Cognitive Model

The cognitive model was originally constructed following research studies conducted by Aaron Beck to explain the psychological processes in depression. It divides the mind beliefs in three levels:

  • Automatic thought.
  • Intermediate belief.
  • Core belief or basic belief.

In 2014, an update of the cognitive model was proposed, called the Generic Cognitive Model (GCM). The GCM is an update of Beck’s model that proposes that mental disorders can be differentiated by the nature of their dysfunctional beliefs. The GCM includes a conceptual framework and a clinical approach for understanding common cognitive processes of mental disorders while specifying the unique features of the specific disorders.

Consistent with the cognitive theory of psychopathology, CT is designed to be structured, directive, active, and time-limited, with the express purpose of identifying, reality-testing, and correcting distorted cognition and underlying dysfunctional beliefs.

Cognitive Restructuring (Methods)

Cognitive restructuring involves four steps:

  • Identification of problematic cognitions known as “automatic thoughts” (ATs) which are dysfunctional or negative views of the self, world, or future based upon already existing beliefs about oneself, the world, or the future.
  • Identification of the cognitive distortions in the ATs.
  • Rational disputation of ATs with the Socratic method.
  • Development of a rational rebuttal to the ATs.

There are six types of automatic thoughts:

  • Self-evaluated thoughts.
  • Thoughts about the evaluations of others.
  • Evaluative thoughts about the other person with whom they are interacting.
  • Thoughts about coping strategies and behavioural plans.
  • Thoughts of avoidance.
  • Any other thoughts that were not categorised.

Other major techniques include:

  • Activity monitoring and activity scheduling.
  • Behavioural experiments.
  • Catching, checking, and changing thoughts.
  • Collaborative empiricism:
    • Therapist and patient become investigators by examining the evidence to support or reject the patient’s cognitions.
    • Empirical evidence is used to determine whether particular cognitions serve any useful purpose.
  • Downward arrow technique.
  • Exposure and response prevention.
  • Cost benefit analysis.
  • Acting ‘as if’.
  • Guided discovery:
    • Therapist elucidates behavioural problems and faulty thinking by designing new experiences that lead to acquisition of new skills and perspectives.
    • Through both cognitive and behavioural methods, the patient discovers more adaptive ways of thinking and coping with environmental stressors by correcting cognitive processing.
  • Mastery and pleasure technique.
  • Problem solving.
  • Socratic questioning: involves the creation of a series of questions to
    • Clarify and define problems;
    • Assist in the identification of thoughts, images and assumptions;
    • Examine the meanings of events for the patient; and
    • Assess the consequences of maintaining maladaptive thoughts and behaviours.

Socratic Questioning

Socratic questions are the archetypal cognitive restructuring techniques. These kinds of questions are designed to challenge assumptions by:

  • Conceiving reasonable alternatives:
    • ‘What might be another explanation or viewpoint of the situation? Why else did it happen?’
  • Evaluating those consequences:
    • ‘What’s the effect of thinking or believing this?
    • What could be the effect of thinking differently and no longer holding onto this belief?’
  • Distancing:
    • ‘Imagine a specific friend/family member in the same situation or if they viewed the situation this way, what would I tell them?’
  • Examples of socratic questions include:
    • ‘Describe the way you formed your viewpoint originally.‘
    • ‘What initially convinced you that your current view is the best one available?‘
    • ‘Think of three pieces of evidence that contradict this view, or that support the opposite view. Think about the opposite of this viewpoint and reflect on it for a moment. What’s the strongest argument in favour of this opposite view?‘
    • ‘Write down any specific benefits you get from holding this belief, such as social or psychological benefits. For example, getting to be part of a community of like-minded people, feeling good about yourself or the world, feeling that your viewpoint is superior to others’, etc Are there any reasons that you might hold this view other than because it’s true?‘
    • ‘For instance, does holding this viewpoint provide some peace of mind that holding a different viewpoint would not?‘
    • ‘In order to refine your viewpoint so that it’s as accurate as possible, it’s important to challenge it directly on occasion and consider whether there are reasons that it might not be true. What do you think the best or strongest argument against this perspective is?‘
    • What would you have to experience or find out in order for you to change your ‘mind about this viewpoint?‘
    • Given your thoughts so far, do you think that there may be a truer, more accurate, or more nuanced version of your original view that you could state right ‘now?‘

False Assumptions

False assumptions are based on ‘cognitive distortions’, such as:

  • Always Being Right: “We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness. For example, “I don’t care how badly arguing with me makes you feel, I’m going to win this argument no matter what because I’m right.” Being right often is more important than the feelings of others around a person who engages in this cognitive distortion, even loved ones.”
  • Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: “We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.”

Awfulising and Must-ing

Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) includes awfulising, when a person causes themselves disturbance by labelling an upcoming situation as ‘awful’, rather than envisaging how the situation may actually unfold, and Must-ing, when a person places a false demand on themselves that something ‘must’ happen (e.g. ‘I must get an A in this exam’.)

Types

Cognitive Therapy

based on the cognitive model, stating that thoughts, feelings and behaviour are mutually influenced by each other. Shifting cognition is seen as the main mechanism by which lasting emotional and behavioural changes take place. Treatment is very collaborative, tailored, skill-focused, and based on a case conceptualisation.

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

Based on the belief that most problems originate in erroneous or irrational thought. For instance, perfectionists and pessimists usually suffer from issues related to irrational thinking; for example, if a perfectionist encounters a small failure, he or she might perceive it as a much bigger failure. It is better to establish a reasonable standard emotionally, so the individual can live a balanced life. This form of cognitive therapy is an opportunity for the patient to learn of their current distortions and successfully eliminate them.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

A system of approaches drawing from both the cognitive and behavioural systems of psychotherapy. CBT is an umbrella term for a group of therapies, where as CT is a discrete form of therapy.

Application

Depression

According to Beck’s theory of the aetiology of depression, depressed people acquire a negative schema of the world in childhood and adolescence; children and adolescents who experience depression acquire this negative schema earlier. Depressed people acquire such schemas through a loss of a parent, rejection by peers, bullying, criticism from teachers or parents, the depressive attitude of a parent and other negative events. When the person with such schemas encounters a situation that resembles the original conditions of the learned schema in some way, the negative schemas of the person are activated.

Beck’s negative triad holds that depressed people have negative thoughts about themselves, their experiences in the world, and the future. For instance, a depressed person might think, “I didn’t get the job because I’m terrible at interviews. Interviewers never like me, and no one will ever want to hire me.” In the same situation, a person who is not depressed might think, “The interviewer wasn’t paying much attention to me. Maybe she already had someone else in mind for the job. Next time I’ll have better luck, and I’ll get a job soon.” Beck also identified a number of other cognitive distortions, which can contribute to depression, including the following:

  • Arbitrary inference;
  • Selective abstraction;
  • Overgeneralisation;
  • Magnification; and
  • Minimisation.

In 2008 Beck proposed an integrative developmental model of depression that aims to incorporate research in genetics and neuroscience of depression. This model was updated in 2016 to incorporate multiple levels of analyses, new research, and key concepts (e.g. resilience) within the framework of an evolutionary perspective.

Other Applications

Cognitive therapy has been applied to a very wide range of behavioural health issues including:

  • Academic achievement.
  • Addiction.
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Phobia.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Suicidal ideation.
  • Weight loss.

Criticisms

A criticism has been that clinical studies of CBT efficacy (or any psychotherapy) are not double-blind (i.e. neither subjects nor therapists in psychotherapy studies are blind to the type of treatment). They may be single-blinded, the rater may not know the treatment the patient received, but neither the patients nor the therapists are blinded to the type of therapy given (two out of three of the persons involved in the trial, i.e., all of the persons involved in the treatment, are unblinded). The patient is an active participant in correcting negative distorted thoughts, thus quite aware of the treatment group they are in.

Book: Play in Child Development and Psychotherapy

Book Title:

Play in Child Development and Psychotherapy: Toward Empirically Supported Practice (Personality & Clinical Psychology).

Author(s): Sandra Walker Russ.

Year: 2003.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Routledge.

Type(s): Hardcover, Paperback, and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Child psychotherapy is in a state of transition. On the one hand, pretend play is a major tool of therapists who work with children. On the other, a mounting chorus of critics claims that play therapy lacks demonstrated treatment efficacy. These complaints are not invalid. Clinical research has only begun.

Extensive studies by developmental researchers have, however, strongly supported the importance of play for children. Much knowledge is being accumulated about the ways in which play is involved in the development of cognitive, affective, and personality processes that are crucial for adaptive functioning. However, there has been a yawning gap between research findings and useful suggestions for practitioners.

Play in Child Development and Psychotherapy represents the first effort to bridge the gap and place play therapy on a firmer empirical foundation. Sandra Russ applies sophisticated contemporary understanding of the role of play in child development to the work of mental health professionals who are trying to design intervention and prevention programs that can be empirically evaluated. Never losing sight of the complex problems that face child therapists, she integrates clinical and developmental research and theory into a comprehensive, up-to-date review of current approaches to conceptualizing play and to doing both therapeutic play work with children and the assessment that necessarily precedes and accompanies it.

Book: Doing Psychotherapy

Book Title:

Doing Psychotherapy: A Trauma and Attachment-Informed Approach.

Author(s): Robin Shapiro.

Year: 2020.

Edition: First (1ed).

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company.

Type(s): Paperback, Audiobook, and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Most books about doing psychotherapy are tied to particular psychotherapeutic practices. Here, seasoned clinical author Robin Shapiro teaches readers the ins and outs of a trauma-and attachment-informed approach that is not tied to any one model or method.

This book teaches assessment, treatment plans, enhancing the therapeutic relationship and ethics and boundary issues, all within a general framework of attachment theory and trauma. Practical chapters talk about working with attachment problems, grief, depression, cultural differences, affect tolerance, anxiety, addiction, trauma, skill- building, suicidal ideation, psychosis, and the beginning and end of therapy. Filled with examples, suggestions for dialogue and questions for a variety of therapeutic situation, Shapiro’s conversational tone makes the book very relatable.

Early-career therapists will refer to it for years to come and veteran practitioners looking for a refresher (or introduction) to the latest in trauma and attachment work will find it especially useful.

On This Day … 08 February

People (Deaths)

  • 1964 – Ernst Kretschmer, German psychiatrist and author (b. 1888).
  • 2007 – Ian Stevenson, Canadian-American psychiatrist and academic (b. 1918).

Ernst Kretschmer

Ernst Kretschmer (08 October 1888 to 08 February 1964) was a German psychiatrist who researched the human constitution and established a typology.

Life

Kretschmer was born in Wüstenrot near Heilbronn. He attended Cannstatt Gymnasium, one of the oldest Latin schools in Stuttgart area. From 1906 to 1912 he studied theology, medicine, and philosophy at the universities of Tübingen, Munich and Hamburg. From 1913 he was assistant of Robert Gaupp in Tübingen, where he received his habilitation in 1918. He continued as assistant medical director until 1926.

In 1926 he became the director of the psychiatric clinic at Marburg University.

Kretschmer was a founding member of the International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy (AÄGP) which was founded on 12 January 1927. He was the president of AÄGP from 1929. In 1933 he resigned from the AÄGP for political reasons.

From 1946 until 1959, Kretschmer was the director of the psychiatric clinic of the University of Tübingen. He died, aged 75, in Tübingen.

Cooperating with the Nazis

After he resigned from the AÄGP, he started to support the SS and signed the “Vow of allegiance of the professors of the German universities and high-schools to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialistic state.” (German: “Bekenntnis der Professoren an den deutschen Universitäten und Hochschulen zu Adolf Hitler und dem nationalsozialistischen Staat”).

Persistent Vegetative State and Sensitive Paranoia Research

Kretschmer was the first to describe the persistent vegetative state which has also been called Kretschmer’s syndrome. Another medical term coined after him is Kretschmer’s sensitive paranoia. This classification has the merit of singling out “a type of paranoia that was unknown” prior to Kretschmer, and which “does not resemble the stereotypical image […] of sthenic paranoia”. Furthermore, between 1915 and 1921 he developed a differential diagnosis between schizophrenia and manic depression.

Ian Stevenson

Ian Pretyman Stevenson (31 October 1918 to 08 February 2007) was a Canadian-born American psychiatrist. He worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years, as chair of the department of psychiatry from 1957 to 1967, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry from 1967 to 2001, and Research Professor of Psychiatry from 2002 until his death.

As founder and director of the university’s Division of Perceptual Studies, which investigates the paranormal, Stevenson became known for his research into cases he considered suggestive of reincarnation, the idea that emotions, memories, and even physical bodily features can be transferred from one life to another. Over a period of forty years in international fieldwork, he investigated three thousand cases of children who claimed to remember past lives. His position was that certain phobias, philias, unusual abilities and illnesses could not be fully explained by heredity or the environment. He believed that, in addition to genetics and the environment, reincarnation might possibly provide a third, contributing factor.

Stevenson helped found the Society for Scientific Exploration in 1982 and was the author of around three hundred papers and fourteen books on reincarnation, including Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966), Cases of the Reincarnation Type (four volumes, 1975-1983) and European Cases of the Reincarnation Type (2003). His most ambitious work was the 2,268-page, two-volume Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (1997). This reported two hundred cases in which birthmarks and birth defects seemed to correspond in some way to a wound on the deceased person whose life the child recalled. He wrote a shorter version of the same research for the general reader, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (1997).

Reaction to his work was mixed. In an obituary for Stevenson in The New York Times, Margalit Fox wrote that Stevenson’s supporters saw him as a misunderstood genius but that most scientists had simply ignored his research and that his detractors regarded him as earnest but gullible. His life and work became the subject of three supportive books, Old Souls: The Scientific Search for Proof of Past Lives (1999) by Tom Shroder, a Washington Post journalist, Life Before Life (2005) by Jim B. Tucker, a psychiatrist and colleague at the University of Virginia, and Science, the Self, and Survival after Death (2012), by Emily Williams Kelly. Critics, particularly the philosophers C.T.K. Chari (1909-1993) and Paul Edwards (1923-2004), raised a number of issues, including claims that the children or parents interviewed by Stevenson had deceived him, that he had asked them leading questions, that he had often worked through translators who believed what the interviewees were saying, and that his conclusions were undermined by confirmation bias, where cases not supportive of his hypothesis were not presented as counting against it.

Book: Contemporary Psychotherapies for a Diverse World

Book Title:

Contemporary Psychotherapies for a Diverse World.

Author(s): Jon Frew and Michael D. Spiegler.

Year: 2012.

Edition: First (1ed).

Publisher: Routledge.

Type(s): Hardcover.

Synopsis:

This unique text is the first to provide an introduction to the theory and practice of the major theories of psychotherapy and, at the same time, illustrate how these approaches are dealing with the ever-increasing diversity of today’s clients. Frew and Spiegler have assembled the leading contemporary authorities on each theory to offer an insider’s perspective that includes exposure to the style and language used by adherents of the approach, which is not available in any other text. The history of each approach and the latest, cutting-edge theory and practice are integrated with an emphasis on an awareness of the needs of diverse non-majority clients, creating a comprehensive, practical, and invaluable text for any counselling theories course.

The major psychotherapeutic approaches are presented in roughly the chronological order in which they were developed, and each chapter follows the same basic format to ensure consistency throughout the text. Along with traditional theories, there are chapters on reality therapy, feminist therapy, and narrative therapy, and the chapter on ethics includes multicultural and feminist perspectives. Each chapter includes:

  • The origin and evolution of the theory.
  • Theoretical foundations and how the theory is manifested in practice.
  • An evaluation of the evidence for the theory’s success, limitations, blind spots, and challenges.
  • “The Author’s Journey,” in which authors describe what lead them to adopt their approach and how their own practice has evolved over time.
  • Multicultural competencies and their importance in the context of the theory.

Resources are available online for instructors to supplement the material in the text and include a test bank and PowerPoint lecture slides.