, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 111-122

Avoidance and processing as predictors of symptom change and positive growth in an integrative therapy for depression

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Abstract

Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and can worsen the course of a variety of medical illnesses. There is a clear need to develop more potent treatments for this debilitating disorder and prevent its return. We are developing a promising psychotherapy that integrates components of current, empirically supported therapies for depression and also teaches healthy lifestyle and emotion regulation habits to promote psychological health. In the 1st open trial, growth curve analyses revealed a significant linear decrease in symptoms of depression in a sample of 29 clients who completed the therapy. Participants wrote essays about their depression each week, and the content was analyzed using a new coding system of change processes. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) revealed that peak levels of processing in the essays were associated with more improvement in depression and with the expression of more hope and of both negative and positive views of the self, presumably as clients explored their depressive views of self. Peak levels of avoidance were associated with less improvement in depression and with more hopelessness and negative views of the self. These preliminary results suggest possible targets of change that can facilitate symptom reduction and perhaps also promote psychological health.