Integrating CBT and CFT within a case formulation approach to reduce depression and anxiety in an older adult with a complex mental and physical health history: A single case study

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Depression and anxiety are major contributors to growing healthcare costs in the UK, particularly with an increasingly ageing population. However, identification of mental health needs in older adults has been overshadowed by a tendency to focus on physical health issues, despite the established co-morbidity of depression, anxiety and physical health conditions. When older adults seek psychological support, treatment options may vary and may be time limited, either because of protocol guidance or due to the resource constraints of psychology services. Time-limited treatment, common in many adult services, may not best meet the needs of older adults, whose physical, cognitive and emotional needs alter with age. It is, therefore, important to identify treatments that best meet the needs of older adults who seek psychological support, but who may arrive with complex mental and physical health histories. This paper aims to explore how a case formulation-driven approach that draws on the theoretical underpinnings of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and compassion-focused therapy (CFT) can be used to reduce anxiety and depression in an older adult with a complex multi-morbid mental and physical health history. This study employs a single-case (A–B) experimental design [assessment (A), CBT and CFT intervention (B)] over 28 sessions. Results suggest the greatest reductions in depression and anxiety (as measured using PHQ-9 and GAD-7) occurred during the CFT phase of the intervention, although scores failed to drop below subclinical levels in any phase of the intervention. This case highlights the value of incorporating CFT with CBT in case formulation-driven interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere41
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalThe Cognitive Behaviour Therapist
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2020


  • Case-formulation driven approach, CBT, CFT, Multi-morbidity, Older adult

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