Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sudden improvements, lasting gains

People going through psychotherapy often demonstrate sudden, dramatic improvements suggesting that they have had some kind of epiphany that has dramatically altered their outlook on life and way of thinking. These sudden changes represent genuine improvement in people's condition and those who show sudden improvements from one session to the next are more likely to show a greater and longer-lasting improvement after the end of therapy. A team of researchers at the University of Virginia in the U.S. looked into sudden improvement in 30 people going through a 12-week course of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for panic disorder. 43% of the clients showed at least one dramatic burst of improvement during the course of therapy. Half of those who had had a dramatic improvement had had it between the first and second sessions, while the other half had experienced it later on. However, only the later improvers had better symptoms at the end of the study compared to people who had shown no dramatic improvement. The later improvers showed a greater improvement in their fear of anxiety-related symptoms at the end of their course of therapy, and at a six-month follow-up.

Clerkin, E., Teachman, B. and Janik, S. Smith - Sudden gains in group cognitive-behavioural therapy for panic disorder Behaviour Research and Therapy 2008

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