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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after traumatic birth can have a debilitating effect on parents already adapting to significant life changes during the post-partum period. Cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) is a highly effective psychological therapy for PTSD which is recommended in the NICE guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2018) as a first-line intervention for PTSD. In this paper, we provide guidance on how to deliver CT-PTSD for birth-related trauma and baby loss and how to address common cognitive themes.
Key learning aims
(1) To recognise and understand the development of PTSD following childbirth and baby loss.
(2) To understand how Ehlers and Clark’s (2000) cognitive model of PTSD can be applied to post-partum PTSD.
(3) To be able to apply cognitive therapy for PTSD to patients with perinatal PTSD, including traumatic baby loss through miscarriage or birth.
(4) To discover common personal meanings associated with birth trauma and baby loss and the steps to update them.
The subject of prolonged, complicated and traumatic grief has become more topical as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. CBT practitioners have been asked to provide effective therapeutic responses for clients with enduring distressing grief reactions. These enduring grief conditions have now been categorised as Prolonged Grief Disorder in the two main mental health classification systems: in the ICD -11 in November 2020 and as a revision to the DSM-5 in 2021. In this paper we draw on our research and clinical experience in applying cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) to traumatic bereavement to derive lessons for the treatment of prolonged grief. During the pandemic the authors of this paper delivered several workshops on prolonged grief disorder (PGD) during which clinicians raised several thought-provoking questions; how do we differentiate between normal and abnormal or pathological grief; how do we categorise pathological grief; how effective are existing therapies and is there a role for CBT; and how do our experiences with Cognitive Therapy for PTSD help with conceptualisation and treatment of PGD. The purpose of this paper is to answer these important questions and in so doing, consider the historical and theoretical concepts relating to complex and traumatic grief, factors that differentiate normal grief from abnormal grief, maintenance factors for PGD and implications for CBT treatments.
Traumatic loss is associated with high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and appears to inhibit the natural process of grieving, meaning that patients who develop PTSD after loss trauma are also at risk of experiencing enduring grief. Here we present how to treat PTSD arising from traumatic bereavement with cognitive therapy (CT-PTSD; Ehlers et al., 2005). The paper describes the core components of CT-PTSD for bereavement trauma with illustrative examples, and clarifies how the therapy differs from treating PTSD associated with trauma where there is no loss of a significant other. A core aim of the treatment is to help the patient to shift their focus from loss to what has not been lost, from a focus on their loved one being gone to considering how they may take their loved one forward in an abstract, meaningful way to achieve a sense of continuity in the present with what has been lost in the past. This is often achieved with imagery transformation, a significant component of the memory updating procedure in CT-PTSD for bereavement trauma. We also consider how to approach complexities, such as suicide trauma, loss of a loved one in a conflicted relationship, pregnancy loss and loss of life caused by the patient.
Key learning aims
(1) To be able to apply Ehlers and Clark’s (2000) cognitive model to PTSD arising from bereavement trauma.
(2) To recognise how the core treatment components differ for PTSD associated with traumatic bereavement than for PTSD linked to trauma where there is no loss of life.
(3) To discover how to conduct imagery transformation for the memory updating procedure in CT-PTSD for loss trauma.
Patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) have a range of negative thoughts and beliefs about how they think they come across to others. These include specific fears about doing or saying something that will be judged negatively (e.g. ‘I’ll babble’, ‘I’ll have nothing to say’, ‘I’ll blush’, ‘I’ll sweat’, ‘I’ll shake’, etc.) and more persistent negative self-evaluative beliefs such as ‘I am unlikeable’, ‘I am foolish’, ‘I am inadequate’, ‘I am inferior’, ‘I am weird/different’ and ‘I am boring’. Some therapists may take the presence of such persistent negative self-evaluations as being a separate problem of ‘low self-esteem’, rather than seeing them as a core feature of SAD. This may lead to a delay in addressing the persistent negative self-evaluations until the last stages of treatment, as might be typically done in cognitive therapy for depression. It might also prompt therapist drift from the core interventions of NICE recommended cognitive therapy for social anxiety disorder (CT-SAD). Therapists may be tempted to devote considerable time to interventions for ‘low self-esteem’. Our experience from almost 30 years of treating SAD within the framework of the Clark and Wells (1995) model is that when these digressions are at the cost of core CT-SAD techniques, they have limited value. This article clarifies the role of persistent negative self-evaluations in SAD and shows how these beliefs can be more helpfully addressed from the start, and throughout the course of CT-SAD, using a range of experiential techniques.
Key learning aims
(1) To recognise persistent negative self-evaluations as a key feature of SAD.
(2) To understand that persistent negative self-evaluations are central in the Clark and Wells (1995) cognitive model and how to formulate these as part of SAD.
(3) To be able to use all the experiential interventions in cognitive therapy for SAD to address these beliefs.
Surveys are a powerful technique in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). A form of behavioural experiment, surveys can be used to test beliefs, normalise symptoms and experiences, and generate compassionate perspectives. In this article, we discuss why and when to use surveys in CBT interventions for a range of psychological disorders. We also present a step-by-step guide to collaboratively designing surveys with patients, selecting the appropriate recipients, sending out surveys, discussing responses and using key learning as a part of therapy. In doing so, we hope to demonstrate that surveys are a flexible, impactful, time-efficient, individualised technique which can be readily and effectively integrated into CBT interventions.
Key learning aims
After reading this article, it is hoped that readers will be able to:
(1) Conceptualise why surveys can be useful in cognitive behavioural therapy.
(2) Implement collaborative and individualised survey design, delivery and feedback as part of a CBT intervention.
Therapist cognitions about trauma-focused psychological therapies can affect our implementation of evidence-based therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), potentially reducing their effectiveness. Based on observations gleaned from teaching and supervising one of these treatments, cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD), ten common ‘misconceptions’ were identified. These included misconceptions about the suitability of the treatment for some types of trauma and/or emotions, the need for stabilisation prior to memory work, the danger of ‘retraumatising’ patients with memory-focused work, the risks of using memory-focused techniques with patients who dissociate, the remote use of trauma-focused techniques, and the perception of trauma-focused CBT as inflexible. In this article, these misconceptions are analysed in light of existing evidence and guidance is provided on using trauma-focused CT-PTSD with a broad range of presentations.
Key learning aims
(1) To recognise common misconceptions about trauma-focused CBT for PTSD and the evidence against them.
(2) To widen understanding of the application of cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) to a broad range of presentations.
(3) To increase confidence in the formulation-driven, flexible, active and creative delivery of CT-PTSD.
Cognitive therapy for social anxiety disorder (CT-SAD) is recommended by NICE (2013) as a first-line intervention. Take up in routine services is limited by the need for up to 14 ninety-min face-to-face sessions, some of which are out of the office. An internet-based version of the treatment (iCT-SAD) with remote therapist support may achieve similar outcomes with less therapist time.
102 patients with social anxiety disorder were randomised to iCT-SAD, CT-SAD, or waitlist (WAIT) control, each for 14 weeks. WAIT patients were randomised to the treatments after wait. Assessments were at pre-treatment/wait, midtreatment/wait, posttreatment/wait, and follow-ups 3 & 12 months after treatment. The pre-registered (ISRCTN 95 458 747) primary outcome was the social anxiety disorder composite, which combines 6 independent assessor and patient self-report scales of social anxiety. Secondary outcomes included disability, general anxiety, depression and a behaviour test.
CT-SAD and iCT-SAD were both superior to WAIT on all measures. iCT-SAD did not differ from CT-SAD on the primary outcome at post-treatment or follow-up. Total therapist time in iCT-SAD was 6.45 h. CT-SAD required 15.8 h for the same reduction in social anxiety. Mediation analysis indicated that change in process variables specified in cognitive models accounted for 60% of the improvements associated with either treatment. Unlike the primary outcome, there was a significant but small difference in favour of CT-SAD on the behaviour test.
When compared to conventional face-to-face therapy, iCT-SAD can more than double the amount of symptom change associated with each therapist hour.
Evidence-based treatment for panic disorder consists of disorder-specific cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) protocols. However, most measures of CBT competence are generic and there is a clear need for disorder-specific assessment measures.
To fill this gap, we evaluated the psychometric properties of the Cognitive Therapy Competence Scale (CTCP) for panic disorder.
CBT trainees (n = 60) submitted audio recordings of CBT for panic disorder that were scored on a generic competence measure, the Cognitive Therapy Scale – Revised (CTS-R), and the CTCP by markers with experience in CBT practice and evaluation. Trainees also provided pre- to post-treatment clinical outcomes on disorder-specific patient report measures for cases corresponding to their therapy recordings.
The CTCP exhibited strong internal consistency (α = .79–.91) and inter-rater reliability (ICC = .70–.88). The measure demonstrated convergent validity with the CTS-R (r = .40–.54), although investigation into competence classification indicated that the CTCP may be more sensitive at detecting competence for panic disorder-specific CBT skills. Notably, the CTCP demonstrated the first indication of a relationship between therapist competence and clinical outcome for panic disorder (r = .29–.35); no relationship was found for the CTS-R.
These findings provide initial support for the reliability and validity of the CTCP for assessing therapist competence in CBT for panic disorder and support the use of anxiety disorder-specific competence measures. Further investigation into the psychometric properties of the measure in other therapist cohorts and its relationship with clinical outcomes is recommended.
Using a legal standard for scrutinising the regulation of food label claims, this study assessed whether consumers are misled about wholegrain (WG) content and product healthfulness based on common product labels.
First, a discrete choice experiment used pairs of hypothetical products with different amounts of WG, sugar and salt to measure effects on assessment of healthfulness; and second, a WG content comprehension assessment used actual product labels to assess respondent understanding.
Online national panel survey.
For a representative sample of US adults (n 1030), survey responses were collected in 2018 and analysed in 2019.
First, 29–47 % of respondents incorrectly identified the healthier product from paired options, and respondents who self-identified as having difficulty in understanding labels were more likely to err. Second, for actual products composed primarily of refined grains, 43–51 % of respondents overstated the WG content, whereas for one product composed primarily of WG, 17 % of respondents understated the WG content.
The frequency of consumer misunderstanding of grain product labels was high in both study components. Potential policies to address consumer confusion include requiring disclosure of WG content as a percentage of total grain content or requiring disclosure of the grams of WG v. refined grains per serving.
Remote delivery of evidence-based psychological therapies via video conference has become particularly relevant following the COVID-19 pandemic, and is likely to be an on-going method of treatment delivery post-COVID. Remotely delivered therapy could be of particular benefit for people with social anxiety disorder (SAD), who tend to avoid or delay seeking face-to-face therapy, often due to anxiety about travelling to appointments and meeting mental health professionals in person. Individual cognitive therapy for SAD (CT-SAD), based on the Clark and Wells (1995) model, is a highly effective treatment that is recommended as a first-line intervention in NICE guidance (NICE, 2013). All of the key features of face-to-face CT-SAD (including video feedback, attention training, behavioural experiments and memory-focused techniques) can be adapted for remote delivery. In this paper, we provide guidance for clinicians on how to deliver CT-SAD remotely, and suggest novel ways for therapists and patients to overcome the challenges of carrying out a range of behavioural experiments during remote treatment delivery.
Key learning aims
(1) To learn how to deliver all of the core interventions of CT-SAD remotely.
(2) To learn novel ways of carrying out behavioural experiments remotely when some in-person social situations might not be possible.
Around a quarter of patients treated in intensive care units (ICUs) will develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Given the dramatic increase in ICU admissions during the COVID-19 pandemic, clinicians are likely to see a rise in post-ICU PTSD cases in the coming months. Post-ICU PTSD can present various challenges to clinicians, and no clinical guidelines have been published for delivering trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy with this population. In this article, we describe how to use cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD), a first line treatment for PTSD recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Using clinical case examples, we outline the key techniques involved in CT-PTSD, and describe their application to treating patients with PTSD following ICU.
Key learning aims
(1) To recognise PTSD following admissions to intensive care units (ICUs).
(2) To understand how the ICU experience can lead to PTSD development.
(3) To understand how Ehlers and Clark’s (2000) cognitive model of PTSD can be applied to post-ICU PTSD.
(4) To be able to apply cognitive therapy for PTSD to patients with post-ICU PTSD.
Persistent complex bereavement disorder (PCBD) has been included in the appendix of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders as a condition for further study, and a new diagnostic category of prolonged grief disorder (PGD) is likely to be added to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) (Maercker et al., 2013). Whilst there is increasing evidence that prolonged grief has distinct characteristics (Bryant, 2012), there are clinical features that overlap with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as intrusive memories, emotional numbing, and avoidance of trauma or loss reminders. Here we describe how the cognitive model for persistent PTSD (Ehlers and Clark, 2000) and trauma-focused cognitive therapy for PTSD (Ehlers et al., 2005) have been helpful in treating persistent complex grief.
By 18 months children demonstrate a range of social–cognitive skills that can be considered important precursors to more advanced forms of social understanding such as theory of mind. Although individual differences in social cognition have been linked to neurocognitive maturation, sociocultural models of development suggest that environmental influences operate in the development of children's social–cognitive outcomes. In the current study of 501 children and their mothers, we tested and found support for a model in which distal environmental risk, assessed when children were newborns, was indirectly associated with children's social–cognitive competency at 18 months through mothers' responsivity at 18 months. Part of this effect also operated through children's concomitant language skills, suggesting both a language-mediated and a language-independent mechanism of social–cognitive development. These findings are discussed with respect to the Vygotskian themes of internalization and semiotic mediation.
Background: Randomized controlled trials have established that individual cognitive therapy based on the Clark and Wells (1995) model is an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder that is superior to a range of alternative psychological and pharmacological interventions. Normally the treatment involves up to 14 weekly face-to-face therapy sessions. Aim: To develop an internet based version of the treatment that requires less therapist time. Method: An internet-delivered version of cognitive therapy (iCT) for social anxiety disorder is described. The internet-version implements all key features of the face-to-face treatment; including video feedback, attention training, behavioural experiments, and memory focused techniques. Therapist support is via a built-in secure messaging system and by brief telephone calls. A cohort of 11 patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for social anxiety disorder worked through the programme and were assessed at pretreatment and posttreatment. Results: No patients dropped out. Improvements in social anxiety and related process variables were within the range of those observed in randomized controlled trials of face-to-face CT. Nine patients (82%) were classified as treatment responders and seven (64%) achieved remission status. Therapist time per patient was only 20% of that in face-to-face CT. Conclusions: iCT shows promise as a way of reducing therapist time without compromising efficacy. Further evaluation of iCT is ongoing.
Charles Baudelaire, “The Fountain of Blood” (1857)
–You didn't know that Etna woke up?
– I don't know this gentleman and I don't give a damn about his awakening.
Vincent Gédéon, “Les Opinions de Vincent Gédéon” (1923)
What we used to call art begins at a distance of two meters from the body.
Walter Benjamin, “Dream Kitsch” (1927)
In 1923, Jean Epstein traveled to the island of Sicily to film Mount Etna's latest eruption. Stuart Liebman's pioneering research on Epstein has confirmed that the resulting film produced by Pathé Consortium, La Montagne infidèle, is now lost. Yet, the eponymous first chapter of Epstein's book, Le Cinématographe vu de l’Etna (1926), survives not only as one of the most evocative texts about an encounter with the live volcano. It also persists as one of the most powerful early texts on film aesthetics and technological mediation – the epicenter of the modern aesthetic experience according to Epstein.
Throughout the “Etna” chapter, Epstein uses the classic convention of anthropomorphosis not unlike the humorist cited in the epigraph, but toward far more philosophic ends. Etna is described first as a “great actor” whose molten incline later took on “an obstinate, human face.” The volcano's fullest human incarnation in the essay is also its most startling. It is followed by a phrase that continues to strike film scholars with its signifying force: We felt ourselves to be in the presence of someone lying in wait for us. The laughter and the stunning cries of our eight mule-drivers quieted. We marched in the silence of a thought that was shared until I felt it before us like an eleventh, gigantic person. I don't know if I can communicate the degree to which this, this is cinema, this personage of our preoccupation. ” In this passage, Epstein neither posits a facile comparison of Etna to the cinema nor simply shifts to a cinematographic discourse; nor does he, in my view, describe this experience “as if he were in a film,” as the phrase has been otherwise interpreted.
Background: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) of anxiety disorders is usually delivered in weekly or biweekly sessions. There is evidence that intensive CBT can be effective in phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder. Studies of intensive CBT for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are lacking. Method: A feasibility study tested the acceptability and efficacy of an intensive version of Cognitive Therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) in 14 patients drawn from consecutive referrals. Patients received up to 18 hours of therapy over a period of 5 to 7 working days, followed by 1 session a week later and up to 3 follow-up sessions. Results: Intensive CT-PTSD was well tolerated and 85.7 % of patients no longer had PTSD at the end of treatment. Patients treated with intensive CT-PTSD achieved similar overall outcomes as a comparable group of patients treated with weekly CT-PTSD in an earlier study, but the intensive treatment improved PTSD symptoms over a shorter period of time and led to greater reductions in depression. Conclusions: The results suggest that intensive CT-PTSD is a feasible and promising alternative to weekly treatment that warrants further evaluation in randomized trials.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with verbal memory deficits, which could influence treatment outcome. We assessed neuropsychological functioning in individuals with PTSD and their response to cognitive– behavioural therapy (CBT). Treatment non-responders had significantly poorer performance on measures of verbal memory compared with responders and demonstrated narrative encoding deficits. Differences were not explained by IQ, performance on tasks of attention, initial PTSD severity, depression, time since trauma, or alcohol/substance misuse. Verbal memory deficits seem to diminish the effectiveness of CBT and should be considered in its implementation.