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Interviews with 100 CBT-therapists reveal 43 per cent of clients experience unwanted side-effects from therapy

13 August 2018

The structured nature of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy/CBT and its clearly defined principles (based on the links between thoughts, feelings and behaviours) make it relatively easy to train practitioners, to ensure standardised delivery and to measure outcomes.

Consequently, CBT has revolutionised mental health care, allowing psychologists to alchemize therapy from an art into a science. For many mental health conditions, there is now considerable evidence that CBT is as, or more, effective than drug treatments. Yet, just like any form of psychotherapy, CBT is not without the risk of unwanted adverse effects.

A recent paper in Cognitive Therapy and Research outlines the nature and prevalence of these unwanted effects, based on structured interviews with 100 CBT-trained psychotherapists.

“This is what therapists should know about when informing their patients about the upcoming merits and risks of treatment,” write Marie-Luise Schermuly-Haupt and her colleagues.

The researchers asked each CBT-therapist (78 per cent were female, average age 32, with an average of 5 years experience) to recall their most recent client who had taken part in at least 10 sessions of CBT.

The chosen clients (51 per cent were female, average age 38) mostly had diagnoses of depression, anxiety or personality disorder, in the mild to moderate range.

Read more in a post from Christian Jarrett on our Research DIgest blog.

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