One of the goals of cognitive therapy is to teach clients how to identify and transform their emotions and behaviors. Individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety, and other psychological problems can often benefit from various forms of cognitive therapy (CT) if the skills taught are acquired successfully and retained. One of the biggest challenges for clinicians and clients is the lack of effective tools to measure the development of CT skills. Robin B. Jarrett of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, recently led a team that developed a new tool to measure CT skills. “At present, there are few measures available that attempt to assess all of the components of patients’ CT skill level (e.g., comprehension and usage),” said the team. They noted that although there some tools available, including the Performance of Cognitive Therapy skills Scale (PCTS), they are not always viable options. “Because the PCTS ratings rely on videotape review and content-analytic methods by raters, the PCTS is impractical for most practitioners to use and likewise may be difficult for researchers to use in large samples,” they said.
The team believes their new tool will fill this void. The Skills of Cognitive Therapy-Patient Version (SoCT-P) and the Observer Version (SoCT-O) were introduced in a trial involving 15 therapists and over 300 clients. The clients had been referred for treatment of acute depression prior to the beginning of the study. The researchers hoped that over a 14 week period, the skills learned in CT could be retained at adequate levels by self-reports from the clients (SoCT-P) and therapists reports (SoCT-O). The study revealed that the clients and therapists rated the level of CT skills significantly higher at the completion of the study than at onset. “This result supports the hypothesis that greater patient CT skill (measured at the midpoint) predicts improvements in depressive symptoms (measured at the end of CT),” said the researchers. “The SoCT could be used in clinical practice to identify patients with suboptimal skill and to intervene with adjunctive therapeutic tools designed to boost patient learning.”
Jarrett, Robin B., Jeffrey R. Vittengl, Lee Anna Clark, and Michae E. Thase. “Skills of Cognitive Therapy (SoCT): A New Measure of Patients’ Comprehension and Use.”Psychological Assessment 23.3 (2011): 578-86. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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