Symptoms of moderate to mild depression are often treated with psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness approaches, or relaxation techniques (RT). The prevalence of depression and the fact that many individuals do not respond to one type of treatment alone creates a need for other techniques that can be used in conjunction with more traditional therapies. In recent years, novel approaches such as internet-based therapy and guided self-help programs have been designed to complement existing treatments. These therapies offer many benefits to clients and communities because they are easily accessible, private, and reduce overall health-care costs. Another unique form of treatment is cognitive bias modification (CBM). This method stresses concreteness training (CNT), which is the repeated practice of cognitive skills to create habitual behaviors. It has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety in individuals by creating a habit of switching cognitive focus from negative thoughts to more positive ones.
Because it is relatively new, CBM has not been researched extensively as of yet. Therefore, Edward R. Watkins of the Clinical Psychology and Mood Disorders Centre at the University of Exeter in the UK recently led a study that assessed 121 individuals with depression who underwent either CNT with treatment as usual (TAU), TAU alone, or TAU plus RT. Watkins found that the participants that received CNT had lower rates of both overgeneralization and rumination at the conclusion of the treatment, and these results were maintained over a 6-month period. He also discovered that although the RT and CNT had the same immediate posttreatment outcomes, participants in the CNT group had better problem-solving skills than the participants in the TAU or TAU plus RT groups.
The participants claimed that practicing the techniques, which is a key component of CBM, helped them develop the habitual cognitive skills needed to reduce their overgeneralization and rumination, thus reducing their symptoms of depression. Because it is affordable and requires reduced clinical involvement, Watkins believes that this approach is a viable supplemental treatment for individuals with depression. “Moreover, CBM training lends itself to automatization and delivery through information technology (computerized training, internet delivery, Smartphone apps), making it highly accessible,” said Watkins. In sum, CNT could be one more beneficial treatment option from which individuals with depression could choose.
Watkins, E. R., Taylor, R. S., Byng, R., Baeyens, C., Read, R. (2012). Guided self-help concreteness training as an intervention for major depression in primary care: A phase II randomized controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 42.7, 1359-1371.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.