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Large numbers of people showing complex presentations of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the NHS Talking Therapies services routinely require multi-faceted and extended one-to-one National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended treatment approaches. This can lead to longer waits for therapy and prolong patient suffering. We therefore evaluated whether a group stabilisation intervention delivered to patients on the waitlist for individual trauma-focused psychological treatment could help address this burden.
The study aimed to ascertain a trauma-focused stabilisation group’s acceptability, feasibility, and preliminary clinical benefit.
Method and results:
Fifty-eight patients with PTSD waiting for trauma-focused individual treatment were included in the study. Two therapists delivered six 5-session groups. The stabilisation group was found to be feasible and acceptable. Overall, PTSD symptom reduction was medium to large, with a Cohen’s d of .77 for intent-to-treat and 1.05 for per protocol analyses. Additionally, for depression and anxiety, there was minimal symptom deterioration.
The study provided preliminary evidence for the acceptability, feasibility and clinical benefit of attending a psychoeducational group therapy whilst waiting for one-to-one trauma therapy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) including exposure and response prevention (ERP) is an effective treatment for preadolescent children with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD); however, there is a need to increase access to this treatment for affected children.
This study is a preliminary evaluation of the efficacy and acceptability of a brief therapist-guided, parent-led CBT intervention for pre-adolescent children (5–12 years old) with OCD using a non-concurrent multiple baseline approach.
Parents of 10 children with OCD were randomly allocated to no-treatment baselines of 3, 4 or 5 weeks before receiving six to eight individual treatment sessions with a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner. Diagnostic measures were completed prior to the baseline, 1-week post-treatment, and at a 1-month follow-up, and parents completed weekly measures of children’s OCD symptoms/impairment.
Seventy percent of children were ‘responders’ and/or ‘remitters’ on diagnostic measures at post-treatment, and 60% at the 1-month follow-up. At least 50% of children showed reliable improvements on parent-reported OCD symptoms/impairment from pre- to post-treatment, and from pre-treatment to 1-month follow-up. Crucially, the intervention was acceptable to parents.
Brief therapist-guided, parent-led CBT has the potential to be an effective, acceptable and accessible first-line treatment for pre-adolescent children with OCD, subject to the findings of further evaluations.
Excessive reassurance seeking (ERS) is believed to play an important role in maintaining mental health problems, in particular anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and health anxiety. Despite this, therapists commonly give into patients’ requests for reassurance in clinical settings and are generally unsure how to handle the issue both in therapy itself and concerning advice to the patient’s loved ones. In order to increase our understanding of therapists’ perception of ERS and how interventions for ERS are managed, we examined therapists’ perception and understanding of ERS, including its function, which emotional problems therapists associate it with, and what treatment interventions they consider important for managing ERS. Qualified therapists (n=197) were benchmarked against international expert consensus (n=20) drawn from leading clinical researchers. There was evidence that clinical experience right up to the expert level may result in less reassurance giving within treatment settings. Still, there were enough inconsistencies between the experts and other clinicians to suggest that ERS remains poorly understood and is not consistently dealt with clinically. Results are discussed in terms of how current treatment interventions may be limited for treating ERS, highlighting the need to consider new approaches for dealing with this complicated interpersonal behaviour.
Key learning aims
(1) To describe the role of excessive reassurance seeking in checking behaviour, including its negative personal and interpersonal consequences.
(2) To learn that therapists commonly report finding it difficult to manage reassurance seeking.
(3) To learn that therapists’ beliefs about excessive reassurance seeking may play a key role in helping us understand how to tackle this complicated behaviour.
(4) To consider what therapeutic interventions may be appropriate and helpful for treating excessive reassurance seeking.
This case study recounts an application of Ehlers and Clark’s (2000) cognitive model of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to post-intensive care unit (post-ICU) PTSD. An AB single case design was implemented. The referred patient, Rosalind (pseudonym), completed several psychometric measures prior to the commencement of therapy (establishing a baseline), as well as during and at the end of therapy. Idiosyncratic measures were also implemented to capture changes during specific phases of treatment. The importance of the therapeutic alliance, particularly in engendering a sense of safety, was highlighted. Findings support the use of cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) with an older adult, in the context of a coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19)-related ICU admission. This case is also illustrative of the effectiveness of implementing CT-PTSD in the context of co–morbid difficulties and diagnoses of delirium, depression, and complicated grief.
Key learning aims
(1) To recognise the therapeutic value of CT-PTSD in addressing PTSD following a COVID-19 admission, in the context of complicated grief and delirium.
(2) To consider the importance of a strong therapeutic alliance when undertaking CT–PTSD.
(3) To understand the intersection of complicated grief and delirium in the context of ICU trauma.
(4) To consider the challenges in working with PTSD, whereby the target trauma (COVID–19 ICU admission) is linked with ongoing uncertainty and continuing indeterminate threat.
Approximately 10% of young people ‘often’ feel lonely, with loneliness being predictive of multiple physical and mental health problems. Research has found CBT to be effective for reducing loneliness in adults, but interventions for young people who report loneliness as their primary difficulty are lacking.
CBT for Chronic Loneliness in Young People was developed as a modular intervention. This was evaluated in a single-case experimental design (SCED) with seven participants aged 11–18 years. The primary outcome was self-reported loneliness on the Three-Item Loneliness Scale. Secondary outcomes were self-reported loneliness on the UCLA-LS-3, and self- and parent-reported RCADS and SDQ impact scores. Feasibility and participant satisfaction were also assessed.
At post-intervention, there was a 66.41% reduction in loneliness, with all seven participants reporting a significant reduction on the primary outcome measure (p < .001). There was also a reduction on the UCLA-LS-3 of a large effect (d = 1.53). Reductions of a large effect size were also found for parent-reported total RCADS (d = 2.19) and SDQ impact scores (d = 2.15) and self-reported total RCADS scores (d = 1.81), with a small reduction in self-reported SDQ impact scores (d = 0.41). Participants reported high levels of satisfaction, with the protocol being feasible and acceptable.
We conclude that CBT for Chronic Loneliness in Young People may be an effective intervention for reducing loneliness and co-occurring mental health difficulties in young people. The intervention should now be evaluated further through a randomised controlled trial (RCT).
There is preliminary evidence that CBT may be helpful for improving symptoms of misophonia, but the key mechanisms of change are not yet known for this disorder of decreased tolerance to everyday sounds. This detailed case study aimed to describe the delivery of intensive, formulation-driven CBT for an individual with misophonia and report on session-by-session outcomes using a multi-dimensional measurement tool (SFive). The patient was offered 12 hours of treatment over five sessions, using transdiagnostic and misophonia-specific interventions. Reliable and clinically significant change was found from baseline to one-month follow-up. Visual inspection of outcome graphs indicated that change occurred on the ‘outbursts’ and ‘internalising appraisals’ SFive subscales following assessment, and on the ‘emotional threat’ subscale after the first treatment session. The other two subscales started and remained below a clinically significant level. The biggest symptom change appeared to have occurred after the second session, which included interventions engaging with trigger sounds. The results demonstrated the individualised nature of misophonia, supporting the use of individually tailored treatment for misophonia and highlighting the importance of using a multi-dimensional measurement tool.
Key learning aims
(1) To understand misophonic distress from a CBT perspective.
(2) To learn a formulation-driven approach to misophonia.
(3) To apply transdiagnostic interventions to misophonia.
(4) To learn about misophonia-specific interventions.
(5) To consider the value of a multi-dimensional measure of misophonia.
There is wide variation in the problems prioritised by people with psychosis in cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis (CBTp). While research trials and mental health services have often prioritised reduction in psychiatric symptoms, service users may prioritise issues not directly related to psychosis. This discrepancy suggests potential challenges in treatment outcome research.
The present study aimed to examine the types of problems that were recorded on problem lists generated in CBTp trials.
Problem and goals lists for 110 participants were extracted from CBTp therapy notes. Subsequently, problems were coded into 23 distinct categories by pooling together items that appeared thematically related.
More than half of participants (59.62%) listed a non-psychosis-related priority problem, and 22.12% did not list any psychosis related problems. Chi-square tests indicated there was no difference between participants from early intervention (EI) and other services in terms of priority problem (χ2 = 0.06, p = .804), but that those from EI were more likely to include any psychosis-related problems in their lists (χ2 = 6.66, p = .010).
The findings of this study suggest that psychiatric symptom reduction is not the primary goal of CBTp for most service users, particularly those who are not under the care of EI services. The implications for future research and clinical practice are discussed.
Melanie Fennell’s (1997) seminal cognitive approach to low self-esteem was published in Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy. The current paper proposes a refined model, drawing on social theories, and research with people with socially devalued characteristics. This model emphasises how self-esteem relates to perceptions of one’s value in the eyes of others. It is proposed that core beliefs typical of low self-esteem relate to one’s value in relation to personal adequacy (e.g. having worth or status) and/or to social connection (e.g. being liked, loved, accepted or included). In each of these value domains, beliefs about both the self (e.g. ‘I am a failure’, ‘I am unlovable’) and others (e.g. ‘Others look down on me’, ‘Others don’t care about me’) are considered important. The model suggests that everyone monitors their value but in people with low self-esteem, cognitive biases associated with underlying beliefs occur. In the context of trigger situations, this results in a greater likelihood of negative appraisals of perceived threat to one’s value. Such appraisals activate underlying negative beliefs, resulting in negative mood (e.g. low mood, anxiety, shame, disgust) and other responses that maintain low self-esteem. Responses which can be used excessively or in unhelpful ways include (a) corrective behaviours; (b) compensatory strategies; (c) increased value monitoring; (d) safety-seeking behaviours; (e) rumination; (f) unhelpful mood regulation responses. These responses can adversely impact daily functioning or health, having the counterproductive effect of maintaining negative beliefs about one’s value. Examples are provided for low self-esteem in lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals.
Anger has been shown to be associated with aggression and violence in adults with intellectual disabilities in both community and secure settings. Emerging evidence has indicated that cognitive behavioural anger treatment can be effective in reducing assessed levels of anger and violent behaviour in these patient populations. However, it has been suggested that the effectiveness of these types of interventions is influenced by the experience and training of the therapists.
In this service evaluation study, the pre- and post-treatment and 12-month follow-up assessment scores of 88 detained in-patient adults with intellectual disabilities and forensic histories who received cognitive behavioural anger treatment were examined in order to investigate whether participants’ responsiveness to treatment was associated with treatment being delivered by qualified versus unqualified therapists.
Overall significant reductions in self-reported measures of anger disposition and anger reactivity were found with no significant time × therapist experience interaction effects. However, the patients treated by qualified therapists improved significantly on measures of anger control compared with those allocated to unqualified therapists.
Male and female detained patients with intellectual disabilities and forensic histories can benefit from an individual cognitive behavioural anger treatment intervention delivered by qualified and unqualified therapists, but therapist experience may be important in supporting patients to develop more complex anger control coping skills.
The aim of this study was to investigate, from a lived experience perspective, specialist psychological therapists’ views on therapeutic adaptations to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for autism that are most helpful for service users and enable best practice. Psychological therapist participants took part in semi-structured interviews led by a researcher with lived experience of autism. A thematic analysis was carried out. Participants (n=8) reported that challenges for service users were anxiety about the therapeutic relationship; communication difficulties with understanding and being understood; emotion recognition difficulties impeding trust and development of the therapeutic relationship; relationships with family interfering with the intervention; information processing impairments, necessitating a slower pace to the intervention; and avoidance of therapy due to anxiety. Goals were forming relationships and building social confidence and skills. Demographic differences were age, with older service users deemed less open to change and younger service users less mature and more often accompanied by family; and gender, with female service users deemed more socially able than males. Therapeutic adaptations were to increase collaboration; support emotional literacy, to help service users understand their own and others’ emotions; focus on special interests; use visual prompts, to improve communication and understanding; be consistent, to build trust and reduce anxiety; accommodate sensory needs, to reduce anxiety and build engagement; avoid metaphors, to reduce communication difficulties; and use role-play, to build and enhance social skills. Therefore, adapting CBT may support clinicians and reduce challenges for people with autism, while lived experience perspectives ensure adaptations meet service users’ needs.
Key learning aims
(1) To use a lived experience perspective to explore expert psychological therapists’ views of challenges and adaptations when delivering CBT for adults with autism.
(2) To investigate the benefits of adapting CBT when working with adults with autism.
(3) To understand the importance of involving people with lived experience in the development and co-production of psychological interventions.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is considered the first-line treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, some individuals with OCD remain symptomatic following CBT, and therefore understanding predictors of outcome is important for informing treatment recommendations.
The current study aimed to provide the first synthesis of predictors of outcome following CBT for OCD in adults with a primary diagnosis of OCD, as classified by DSM-5.
Eight studies (n=359; mean age range=29.2–37.7 years; 55.4% female) were included in the systematic review.
Congruent with past reviews, there was great heterogeneity of predictors measured across the included studies. Therefore, a narrative synthesis of findings was conducted. Findings from this systematic review indicated that some OCD-related pre-treatment variables (i.e. pre-treatment severity, past CBT treatment, and levels of avoidance) and during treatment variables (i.e. poor working alliance and low treatment adherence) may be important to consider when making treatment recommendations. However, the results also indicate that demographic variables and psychological co-morbidities may not be specific predictors of treatment response.
These findings add to the growing body of literature on predictors of CBT treatment outcomes for individuals with OCD.
Personal practice (PP) is widely practised and a requirement across major psychology and psychotherapy organizations and modalities. However, one of the challenges for training institutions is how to assess the quality of such PP. The Reflective Essay Marking Scale (REMS) was developed to improve standardization of marking reflective essays in cognitive behavioural psychotherapy (CBT) training. A small sample of 16 expert CBT participants recruited by email used the REMS to rate two mock reflective essays in a within-subjects design. The internal consistency of REMS was acceptable (Cronbach’s α=.73) with excellent inter-rater reliability. Across the raters, it sufficiently differentiated quality (t12=4.91; p<.0001). Although these are the results of a preliminary and very small study with a small sample using mock essays, the REMS may be a useful scale, allowing CBT courses to account for students’ reflective work in a standardized way. A larger validation study is required in the future.
Key learning aims
(1) To improve the thinking about what raters should focus on when rating the reflective essays of trainee therapists.
(2) To describe the development of the scale and how its reliability was tested.
(3) To improve the transparency and objectivity in assessing and rating reflective practice.
Culture plays a significant role in psychotherapy practice, with cultural adaptations being implemented more commonly as globalisation and cultural awareness increase. An abundance of systematic reviews, meta-analyses and randomised controlled trials exploring culturally adapted interventions have been published across the globe. In this paper, we present the historical background to cultural adaptation by summarising and evaluating previous frameworks, as well as reviewing current evidence for such adaptations and highlighting routes for further research. Around twenty cultural adaptation frameworks have been published, covering various population demographics and intervention types, providing general guidelines for the implementation of cultural adaptations to psychosocial interventions. Nearly all the frameworks used previous literature and research to develop models on culturally adapted interventions. Some even implemented stakeholder discussions, randomised control trials, and even pilot studies. A variety of cultural adaptation factors have been outlined and discussed; however, there is no agreement on which elements work and which do not. Existing evidence indicates that culturally adapted interventions are effective, regardless of intervention type or population. While cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) was the most common intervention in trials, there are, at present, no high-quality comprehensive meta-analyses or systematic reviews on culturally adapted CBT which include all literature on this topic. This is needed in order to provide a holistic and detailed comprehension of where current understanding lies. We conclude our paper with recommendations for researchers, trainers and commissioners.
Key learning aims
(1) Current theoretical frameworks guiding the development of culturally adapted frameworks will be outlined. Gaps in current literature will be highlighted.
(2) An overview of the current literature of culturally adapted psychotherapies, specifically CBT and its efficacy in improving outcomes for patients, will be provided.
(3) The need for culturally adapted CBT and comprehensive guidelines for the development of these interventions will also be discussed, with clinical implications highlighted.
Cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) have been demonstrated efficacious in treating perinatal depression (PND). This has been demonstrated in several meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies. However, there is a need for up-to-date meta-analytical evidence providing reliable estimates for CBT’s effectiveness in treating and preventing PND. Furthermore, with the world moving toward precision medicine, approaches require a critical synthesis of psychotherapies, especially to unpack their mechanisms of action and to understand what approaches work best for whom. Therefore, the present systematic review and meta-regression analyses aim to answer these research questions.
We searched six academic databases through February 2022 and identified 56 studies for an in-depth review. Using pretested data extraction sheets, we extracted patient-level and intervention-level characteristics and effect size data from each study. Random-effects meta-analyses and mixed-effect subgroup analyses were run to delineate the effectiveness and moderators of CBT interventions for PND, respectively. CBT-based interventions yielded a strong effect size (SMD = −0.74, 95% confidence interval [CI]: −0.91 to −0.56, n = 9,722) in alleviating depressive symptoms. These interventions were effective across different delivery formats (individual, group, and electronic) and could be delivered effectively by specialists and nonspecialists. Longer duration CBT interventions may not necessarily be more effective than shorter ones. Moreover, CBT-based interventions should consider including various behavioral ingredients to maximize intervention benefits.
Effective methods for training and education in the dissemination of evidence-based treatments is a priority. This commentary provides doctoral clinical psychology graduate student authors perspectives on common myths about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Three myths were identified and considered: (1) CBT does not value the therapeutic relationship; (2) CBT is overly rigid; and (3) exposure techniques are cruel. Graduate students were engaged in a competency-based course in Cognitive Behavioural Approaches to Psychotherapy at an American Psychological Association (APA)-accredited doctoral clinical psychology program. The origins of common myths identified by graduate students included a lack of in-depth coverage of CBT and brief video segments provided during introductory courses, lived experience with CBT, and pre-determined views of manualized treatment and exposure techniques. Myth-addressing factors discussed by graduate students included holding space at the start of training for a discussion of attitudes about CBT, specific learning activities, and course content described in this commentary. Finally, self-reported changes in graduate students’ attitudes and behaviour following the course included a more favourable view of CBT as valuing the therapeutic relationship, as well as implementation of resources provided, and techniques learned and practised at practicum settings. Limitations and lessons learned are discussed through the lens of a model of adult learning that may be applied to future graduate training in evidence-based therapies like CBT.
Key learning aims
(1) To understand common myths about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that doctoral students in clinical psychology hold prior to entering a course in CBT.
(2) To understand the possible origins of these myths, factors that may address their impacts, and changes in attitudes and behaviour among graduate students as a result.
(3) To examine the lessons learned that can be applied to future training in evidence-based therapies like CBT.
Our thoughts affect our feelings and our feelings affect our thoughts. But the way to break into this cycle is through changing our thoughts. Experimental evidence shows the effectiveness of many ways of doing this. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) teaches us to observe our automatic negative thoughts and make space for more positive thinking. Positive psychology builds on this, applying the lessons to all of us, and not just those in distress. It helps us all to build our emotional intelligence. The Action for Happiness movement applies these lessons through their 10 Keys to Happier Living. Mindfulness meditation, through non-judgemental and friendly engagement with the present moment, can transform our mental state and improve our immune system.
Epilepsy care often intersects with mental health care. The chapter begins with nonepileptic events. This commonly encountered diagnosis is frequently on the differential for people with new onset seizures. Prompt recognition of a nonepileptic diagnosis can lead to early evidence-based treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy. Moreover, a nonepileptic event diagnosis can avoid inappropriate treatments such as antiseizure medicines (ASMs). It is critical to understand a nonepileptic event diagnosis does not mean that the events are not real or the patient is faking. Specific diagnostic clues for nonepileptic events are thoroughly discussed. The other section of the chapter explores the management of comorbid psychiatric diagnoses in patients with epilepsy and nonepileptic events. The use of most psychiatric medications, including stimulants, can be considered without affecting an epilepsy patient’s treatment plan. An understanding of psychiatric medication and ASM interaction can guide drug selection. As psychiatric diagnoses negatively affect epilepsy patients’ quality of life, prompt recognition and compassionate care can improve your patient’s overall health care.
This paper is an introduction to adaptations to make cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) more accessible to people with intellectual disabilities. It is intended to inform therapists who may work with people with intellectual disabilities in mainstream services.
The paper describes adaptations that consider neuropsychological processes, such as memory, and executive functions, such as planning, problem solving and self-regulation, and identifies that these factors are not unique to people with intellectual disabilities. We describe adaptations based on a review of literature describing CBT for people with intellectual disabilities (Surley and Dagnan, 2019) and draw on clinical experience to give examples of adaptations where possible. The paper particularly emphasises the generalisability of adaptations used with people with intellectual disabilities to therapy with wider populations and suggests that CBT therapists working in mainstream services will have the skills to be able to adapt therapy for people with intellectual disabilities.
Key learning aims
(1) To overview the evidence base supporting the use of CBT with people with intellectual disabilities.
(2) To describe the epidemiology of intellectual disability and discuss its implications for the generalisability of adaptations discussed in this paper.
(3) To describe a range of adaptations to make CBT more accessible people with intellectual disabilities.
(4) To consider whether such adaptations are part of the skill set of CBT therapists mainly working with people without intellectual disabilities.
Several in-person and remote delivery formats of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for panic disorder are available, but up-to-date and comprehensive evidence on their comparative efficacy and acceptability is lacking. Our aim was to evaluate the comparative efficacy and acceptability of all CBT delivery formats to treat panic disorder. To answer our question we performed a systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, and CENTRAL, from inception to 1st January 2022. Pairwise and network meta-analyses were conducted using a random-effects model. Confidence in the evidence was assessed using Confidence in Network Meta-Analysis (CINeMA). The protocol was published in a peer-reviewed journal and in PROSPERO. We found a total of 74 trials with 6699 participants. Evidence suggests that face-to-face group [standardised mean differences (s.m.d.) −0.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.87 to −0.07; CINeMA = moderate], face-to-face individual (s.m.d. −0.43, 95% CI −0.70 to −0.15; CINeMA = Moderate), and guided self-help (SMD −0.42, 95% CI −0.77 to −0.07; CINeMA = low), are superior to treatment as usual in terms of efficacy, whilst unguided self-help is not (SMD −0.21, 95% CI −0.58 to −0.16; CINeMA = low). In terms of acceptability (i.e. all-cause discontinuation from the trial) CBT delivery formats did not differ significantly from each other. Our findings are clear in that there are no efficacy differences between CBT delivered as guided self-help, or in the face-to-face individual or group format in the treatment of panic disorder. No CBT delivery format provided high confidence in the evidence at the CINeMA evaluation.
Anxiety problems have a particularly early age of onset and are common among children. As we celebrate the anniversary of the BABCP, it is important to recognise the huge contribution that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has made to the treatment of anxiety problems in children. CBT remains the only psychological intervention for child anxiety problems with a robust evidence base, but despite this, very few children with anxiety problems access CBT. Creative solutions are urgently needed to ensure that effective treatments can be delivered at scale. Here we focus on parent-led CBT as this offers a potential solution that is brief and can be delivered by clinicians without highly specialised training. Over the last decade there has been a substantial increase in randomised controlled trials evaluating this approach with consistent evidence of effectiveness. Nonetheless clinicians, and parents, often have concerns about trying the approach and can face challenges in its delivery.
We draw on empirical evidence and our clinical experience to address some of these common concerns and challenges, with particular emphasis on the key principles of empowering parents and working with them to provide opportunities for new learning for their children.
We conclude by highlighting some important directions for future research and practice, including further evaluation of who does and does not currently benefit from the approach, determining how it should be adapted to optimise outcomes among groups that may not currently get maximum benefits and across cultures, and capitalising on recent technological developments to increase engagement and widen access.