David Godot, Psy.D.

Components of CBT For Anxiety Disorders

January 8, 2010 • Science
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Borkovec, Newman, Pincus, and Lytle here cite prior reviews of outcome research as having well established CBT as an effective treatment for GAD with low drop-out rates and treatment gains that “routinely maintained or increased at long-term follow-up.” Regardless of this, CBT still fails to produce highly functional states in a large percentage of clients.

This five-year study was designed to explore potential avenues for increasing the efficacy of CBT by extending its duration, measuring the efficacy of two components—cognitive therapy (CT) and applied relaxation and self-control desensitization (SCD)—of the CBT therapy being used, and by measuring interpersonal factors contributing to the success of failure of the treatment.

Although previous research has demonstrated that CBT is more effective than its individual parts over a short duration, these researchers found that each of the components they studied became as effective as the full CBT over the course of a 16-week treatment. Furthermore, they found no improvement in the treatment outcomes of the group receiving both therapeutic components, indicating that an extended duration is unlikely to improve outcomes.

The study found a strong association between some interpersonal behaviors—such as being domineering, vindictive, or nonassertive—and retention of symptoms at followup. The researchers conclude that complementary interpersonal therapy may improve the efficacy of CBT, and cite some existing research which corroborates this theory.

Citation: Borkovec, T. D., Newman, M. G., Pincus, A. L., & Lytle, R. (2002). A component analysis of cognitive-behavioral therapy for generalized anxiety disorder and the role of interpersonal problems. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(2), 288-298.