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The Possibility of Reducing Therapist Contact and Total Length of Therapy in the Treatment of Panic Disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 1999

Cristina Botella*
Jaume I University, Castellón, Spain
Azucena García-Palacios
Jaume I University, Castellón, Spain
Cristina Botella, Departamento de Psicologia Basica, Clinica y Psicobiologia, Universitat Jaume I, Ctra Borriol s/n 12080, Castellon, Spain.


This study compares the effectiveness of a standard cognitive-behavioural treatment for panic disorder with a reduced therapist contact program supported by self-help materials. This program shortens the total therapy length (from 10 to 5 weeks) and the contact time with the therapist (from 10 to 5 sessions). The sample was mostly referred from a public mental health unit, and it had a low level of education (average of 9.7 years). The subjects were assessed according to several variables related with panic disorder at pre- and post-test, and at 12-month follow-up. The results demonstrated that both programs produced significant improvements for all variables at post-test, the benefits were maintained at follow-up assessment, and even heightened for some of the measures. Also, both treatment programs obtained comparable improvements for most measures. These results suggest that the programs that reduce the contact with the therapist, supported by self-help materials, and shorten the time that the patient suffers from this problem (Margraf, Barlow, Clark, & Telch, 1993) may be a good intervention for the treatment of panic disorder. These programs can help to overcome some of the cost-benefit therapeutic limitations of standard cognitive-behavioural programs.

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Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 1999

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