Routine cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety and depression is more effective at repairing symptoms of psychopathology than enhancing wellbeing

Emily Widnall, Alice Price, Hester Trompetter, Barnaby D. Dunn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The primary focus of classic cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for depression and anxiety is on decreasing symptoms of psychopathology. However, there is increasing recognition that it is also important to enhance wellbeing during therapy. This study investigates the extent to which classic CBT for anxiety and depression leads to symptom relief versus wellbeing enhancement, analysing routine outcomes in patients receiving CBT in high intensity Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) Services in the UK. At intake, there were marked symptoms of anxiety and depression (a majority of participants scoring in the severe range) and deficits in wellbeing (a majority of participants classified as languishing, relative to general population normative data). CBT was more effective at reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression than repairing wellbeing. As a result, at the end of treatment, a greater proportion of participants met recovery criteria for anxiety and depression than had moved from languishing into average or flourishing levels of wellbeing. Given the importance of wellbeing to client definitions of recovery, the present results suggest a greater emphasis should be placed on enhancing wellbeing in classic CBT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-39
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Volume44
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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