Emotion-Abstraction Patterns and Cognitive Interventions in a Single Case of Standard Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Roberta Colombo’s scientific contributions)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) assumes that therapeutic change de-pends mainly on change of cognitive content, while, from a theoretical viewpoint, other processes are excluded. This study aims to explore standard CBT interventions using a model of therapeutic change that includes both emotional and cognitive processes, i.e., the therapeutic cycle model (TCM; Mergenthaler, 1985; 1996), which describes the pro-cesses of therapeutic change in terms of cycles involving both emotional arousal and ab-stract thinking activation. We classified standard CBT interventions in three main are-as: assessing, disputing, and reframing biased beliefs. In 10 individual cognitive therapy sessions with a 30-year-old patient affected by a panic disorder with agoraphobia (PDA), this study aimed to explore whether cognitive interventions are not only related to abstract thinking but also to the emotional activation phases of TCM. Three inde-pendent judges assessed the presence of cognitive therapeutic interventions using the Comprehensive Psychotherapeutic Interventions Rating Scale (CPIRS; Trijsburg et al., 2002). A software program measured the TCM cognitive and emotional variables. The measures revealed significant correlations between cognitive therapeutic interventions and phases of abstract thinking activation during the therapeutic process. The results clarified the role of cognitive interventions in the therapeutic process as a useful instru-ment aimed to increase reality testing.

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