Using Targeted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Clinical Work: A Case Study

Olivia Harris, Claudia Kustner, Rachel Paskell, C. Hannay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research shows high levels of complex co-morbidities within psychiatric populations, and there is an increasing need for mental health practitioners to be able to draw on evidence-based psychological interventions, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), to work with this population effectively. One way CBT may be utilised when working with complexity or co-morbidity is to target treatment at a particular aspect of an individual’s presentation. This study uses a single-case A-B design to illustrate an example of using targeted diagnosis-specific CBT to address symptoms of a specific phobia of stairs in the context of a long-standing co-morbid diagnosis of schizophrenia. Results show the intervention to have been effective, with a change from a severe to mild phobia by the end of intervention. Clinical implications, limitations and areas for future research are discussed.
Key learning aims

(1) There are high levels of co-morbid, complex mental health problems within psychiatric populations, and an increasing need for mental health practitioners to be able to work with co-morbidity effectively.

(2) Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) remains one of the most well-evidenced psychological interventions with a large amount of research highlighting the effectiveness of diagnosis-specific CBT.

(3) One way evidence-based diagnosis-specific CBT approaches could be utilised when working with more complex co-morbidity may be to target an intervention at a specific set of symptoms.

(4) An example of using a targeted CBT intervention (to tackle a specific phobia of stairs in the context of a long-standing co-morbid diagnosis of schizophrenia and ongoing hallucinations) is presented. The outcomes show significant changes in the specific phobia symptoms, suggesting that CBT can be effectively used in this targeted manner within real-world clinical settings. The impact of co-morbid mental health difficulties on therapeutic process and outcomes are highlighted.

(5) The use of cognitive restructuring techniques was identified as key to engagement and therapeutic process, supporting the importance of including cognitive techniques in the treatment of phobias compared with purely behavioural exposure-based interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2
JournalCognitive Behaviour Therapist
Volume14
Early online date14 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jan 2021

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