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Concept: Psychotherapy

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BACKGROUND: Tinnitus, the perception of sound in absence of an external acoustic source, impairs the quality of life in 2% of the population. Since in most cases causal treatment is not possible, the majority of therapeutic attempts aim at developing and strengthening individual coping and habituation strategies. Therapeutic interventions that incorporate training in mindfulness meditation have become increasingly popular in the treatment of stress-related disorders. Here we conducted a randomized, controlled clinical study to investigate the efficacy of a specific mindfulness- and body-psychotherapy based program in patients suffering from chronic tinnitus. METHODS: Thirty-six patients were enrolled in this pilot study. The treatment was specifically developed for tinnitus patients and is based on mindfulness and body psychotherapy. Treatment was performed as group therapy at two training weekends that were separated by an interval of 7 weeks (eleven hours/weekend) and in four further two-hour sessions (week 2, 9, 18 and 22). Patients were randomized to receive treatment either immediately or after waiting time, which served as a control condition. The primary study outcome was the change in tinnitus complaints as measured by the German Version of the Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ). RESULTS: ANOVA testing for the primary outcome showed a significant interaction effect time by group (F = 7.4; df = 1,33; p = 0.010). Post hoc t-tests indicated an amelioration of TQ scores from baseline to week 9 in both groups (intervention group: t = 6.2; df = 17; p < 0.001; control group: t = 2.5; df = 16; p = 0.023), but the intervention group improved more than the control group. Groups differed at week 7 and 9, but not at week 24 as far as the TQ score was concerned. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that this mindfulness- and body-psychotherapy-based approach is feasible in the treatment of tinnitus and merits further evaluation in clinical studies with larger sample sizes.The study is registered with clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01540357).

Concepts: Experimental design, Clinical trial, Effectiveness, ClinicalTrials.gov, Clinical research, Psychotherapy, Meditation, Mindfulness

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The first study of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted therapy for the treatment of social anxiety in autistic adults commenced in the spring of 2014. The search for psychotherapeutic options for autistic individuals is imperative considering the lack of effective conventional treatments for mental health diagnoses that are common in this population. Serious Adverse Events (SAEs) involving administration of MDMA in clinical trials have been rare and non-life threatening. To date, MDMA has been administered to over 1133 individuals for research purposes without the occurrence of unexpected drug-related SAEs that require expedited reporting per FDA regulations. Now that safety parameters for limited use of MDMA in clinical settings have been established, a case can be made to further develop MDMA-assisted therapeutic interventions that could support autistic adults in increasing social adaptability among the typically developing population. As in the case with classic hallucinogens and other psychedelic drugs, MDMA catalyzes shifts towards openness and introspection that do not require ongoing administration to achieve lasting benefits. This infrequent dosing mitigates adverse event frequency and improves the risk/benefit ratio of MDMA, which may provide a significant advantage over medications that require daily dosing. Consequently, clinicians could employ new treatment models for social anxiety or similar types of distress administering MDMA on one to several occasions within the context of a supportive and integrative psychotherapy protocol.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Clinical research, Serotonin, Clinical psychology, Psychotherapy, Adverse event, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants

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BACKGROUND: A multi-centre, four-arm trial (the PACE trial) found that rehabilitative cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) were more effective treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) than specialist medical care (SMC) alone, when each was added to SMC, and more effective than adaptive pacing therapy (APT) when added to SMC. In this study we compared how many participants recovered after each treatment. Method We defined recovery operationally using multiple criteria, and compared the proportions of participants meeting each individual criterion along with two composite criteria, defined as (a) recovery in the context of the trial and (b) clinical recovery from the current episode of the illness, however defined, 52 weeks after randomization. We used logistic regression modelling to compare treatments. RESULTS: The percentages (number/total) meeting trial criteria for recovery were 22% (32/143) after CBT, 22% (32/143) after GET, 8% (12/149) after APT and 7% (11/150) after SMC. Similar proportions met criteria for clinical recovery. The odds ratio (OR) for trial recovery after CBT was 3.36 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64-6.88] and for GET 3.38 (95% CI 1.65-6.93), when compared to APT, and after CBT 3.69 (95% CI 1.77-7.69) and GET 3.71 (95% CI 1.78-7.74), when compared to SMC (p values ⩽0.001 for all comparisons). There was no significant difference between APT and SMC. Similar proportions recovered in trial subgroups meeting different definitions of the illness. CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms that recovery from CFS is possible, and that CBT and GET are the therapies most likely to lead to recovery.

Concepts: Health care, Logit, Medicine, Clinical trial, Difference, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Psychotherapy, Chronic fatigue syndrome

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The quality of the therapeutic alliance (TA) has been invoked to explain the equal effectiveness of different psychotherapies, but prior research is correlational, and does not address the possibility that individuals who form good alliances may have good outcomes without therapy.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mental health, Therapy, Clinical psychology, Psychosis, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Existentialism

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Suicide is the 15th most common cause of death worldwide. Although relatively uncommon in the general population, suicide rates are much higher in people with mental health problems. Clinicians often have to assess and manage suicide risk. Risk assessment is challenging for several reasons, not least because conventional approaches to risk assessment rely on patient self reporting and suicidal patients may wish to conceal their plans. Accurate methods of predicting suicide therefore remain elusive and are actively being studied. Novel approaches to risk assessment have shown promise, including empirically derived tools and implicit association tests. Service provision for suicidal patients is often substandard, particularly at times of highest need, such as after discharge from hospital or the emergency department. Although several drug based and psychotherapy based treatments exist, the best approaches to reducing the risk of suicide are still unclear. Some of the most compelling evidence supports long established treatments such as lithium and cognitive behavioral therapy. Emerging options include ketamine and internet based psychotherapies. This review summarizes the current science in suicide risk assessment and provides an overview of the interventions shown to reduce the risk of suicide, with a focus on the clinical management of people with mental disorders.

Concepts: Psychology, Hospital, Mental health, Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Suicide

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The microaggression concept has recently galvanized public discussion and spread to numerous college campuses and businesses. I argue that the microaggression research program (MRP) rests on five core premises, namely, that microaggressions (1) are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation; (2) are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members; (3) reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives; (4) can be validly assessed using only respondents' subjective reports; and (5) exert an adverse impact on recipients' mental health. A review of the literature reveals negligible support for all five suppositions. More broadly, the MRP has been marked by an absence of connectivity to key domains of psychological science, including psychometrics, social cognition, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavior genetics, and personality, health, and industrial-organizational psychology. Although the MRP has been fruitful in drawing the field’s attention to subtle forms of prejudice, it is far too underdeveloped on the conceptual and methodological fronts to warrant real-world application. I conclude with 18 suggestions for advancing the scientific status of the MRP, recommend abandonment of the term “microaggression,” and call for a moratorium on microaggression training programs and publicly distributed microaggression lists pending research to address the MRP’s scientific limitations.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Epistemology, Science, Research, Clinical psychology, Concept, Psychotherapy

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Aims: This study examined the long-term effectiveness of a treatment model at a Swedish therapeutic community for young adults with severe personality disorders, combining milieu therapy and inpatient long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy. Methods: Data were collected for the 56 residents between 1994 and 2008 at intake, termination and 2-year follow-up. Patient residency ranged from 2 to 60 months, with average psychotherapy duration of 30 months. Self-rated outcome was measured using the Symptom Checklist-90-R. Expert-rated outcomes comprised the Global Assessment of Functioning, the Strauss-Carpenter Outcome Scale and the Integration/Sealing-over Scale. A series of mixed-model analyses of variance with one fixed factor (time) was performed to examine the outcomes for the total sample of completers. Effect sizes for within-group change and percentages of improved, unchanged and deteriorated patients were calculated for patients participating in the data collection on all three time points. Results: All outcome measures showed significant improvement on a group level from intake to discharge. Most patients had maintained the therapeutic gains at the 2-year follow-up. The effect sizes were high and the Reliable Change Index provided evidence of good outcome for 92% of the patients at follow-up. The expert ratings gave somewhat larger effect sizes than the patients' self-ratings. Conclusions: The effect sizes and success rates are at a comparable level with corresponding studies of long-term treatments of personality disorders. Most patients had a substantial individual improvement from intake to termination and follow-up. This indicates the effectiveness of this highly specialized and intensive treatment approach for severely disturbed young adult patients.

Concepts: Time, Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Psychodynamics, Milieu therapy, Therapeutic community

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Background Reflective practice groups have been recommended for improving staff wellbeing and team functioning in inpatient psychiatric services, and clinical psychologists have been identified as potential leaders in this type of work. Research is limited with little information about reflective practice group guidelines, prevalence and effectiveness. Aims The aims of this study were to describe clinical psychologists' practice in reflective groups for staff in inpatient psychiatric services and to explore how such groups are conceptualized and implemented. Methods Online questionnaires and follow-up interviews were used to gain broad descriptions of practice and in-depth information about participants' experiences. The sample consisted of 73 clinical psychologists working in the UK, six of whom were interviewed. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, content analysis and thematic analysis. Results Clinical psychologists regularly facilitate reflective staff groups in inpatient psychiatric settings in the UK. Common outcomes related to staff wellbeing, service culture and teamwork. Engagement, group dynamics and lack of management support were common challenges. Group experiences were influenced by the organizational context. Conclusions Clinical psychologists' practices regarding reflective staff groups were in line with recent professional developments. Several difficulties were described, which may be indicative of both a difficulty inherent to the task and a training gap in reflective staff group process. The study had methodological limitations but offers a useful contribution to the literature, and enables practice and training implications to be drawn. The need for further research exploring facilitator characteristics, views of group participants and the impact of reflective staff groups on patients is indicated. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. KEY PRACTITIONER MESSAGE: The term ‘reflective practice group’ encompasses a range of practices, but a typical group structure was found with common aims, outcomes and challenges. Reflective staff groups are regularly facilitated by clinical psychologists in inpatient psychiatric settings in the UK and are influenced by practitioner experience as well as psychodynamic, systemic and group process theories. The safety required for reflective groups to function is influenced by the organizational context, and groups can contribute to shifts in culture toward including psychosocial perspectives. Reflective staff groups represent one type of contribution to an inpatient psychiatric service and team relationships; other processes to encourage alternative professional perspectives and values might also support change. More research is recommended to explore facilitator characteristics, the views of staff teams on reflective staff groups and the impact of these groups on patients.

Concepts: Psychology, Clinical psychology, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Mental health professional, Social psychology, Facilitator, Group dynamics

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The current study explored differences in acceptance of telehealth interventions amongst currently licensed and future clinicians with a focus on web camera-based intervention. The influence of theoretical orientation was also assessed.

Concepts: Psychology, Clinical psychology, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Mental health professional, Family therapy, Clinical neuropsychology, Applied psychology