Functional analytic group therapy (FAGT) was pilot tested to assess its feasibility as a treatment for depressive symptoms and mood in a naturalistic setting. The model uses unplanned in vivo learning opportunities as they occur in group therapy sessions to help clients develop healthier ways of dealing with interpersonal difficulties that are related to their depressive complaints. Twenty-one adult women divided into three groups completed 16 weekly 2-h sessions in a free community clinic. Treatment effect was evaluated through changes pre- to post-treatment on a Brazilian version of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Jacobson and Truax’ method was used to verify clinical significance and reliability of each individual client’s improvement. Seventeen moderately depressed participants entered the non-clinical range. Four mildly depressed participants also showed improvement. For 12 clients, the improvement was both reliable and clinically significant. The 15 participants who took part in follow-up were found to have maintained gains over 2 years. Attrition was low, considering the investment of time and effort demanded. The results suggest this approach is a viable treatment for depressive symptoms and mood and deserves further investigation.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561–571. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710120031004.
Butler, L., Johns, L. C., Byrne, M., Candice, J., O’Donoghue, E., Jolley, S., Morris, E. M. J., & Oliver, J. E. (2016). Running acceptance and commitment therapy groups in community settings. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 5, 33–38.
Cluxton-Keller, F., Priest, J. B., & Denton, D. H. (2015). Couple communication patterns as predictors of major depressive disorder symptoms: an exploratory study. American Journal of Family Therapy, 43, 395–412.
Coyne, J. C. (1999). Thinking interactionally about depression: a radical restatement. In T. E. Joiner & J. C. Coyne (Eds.), Interpersonal processes in depression (pp. 369–392). Washington: American Psychological Association.
Cuijpers, P., Karyotaki, E., Weitz, E., Andersson, G., Hollon, S. D., & van Straten, A. (2014). The effects of psychotherapies for major depression in adults on remission, recovery and improvement: a meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 159, 118–126.
Cunha, J. A. (2001). Manual da versão em português das Escalas Beck. [Manual of the Portuguese version of the Beck Scales]. São Paulo: Casa do Psicólogo.
Dammen, T., Papageorgiou, C., & Wells, A. (2015). An open trial of group metacognitive therapy for depression in Norway. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 69, 126–131.
Dammen, T., Papageorgiou, C., & Wells, A. (2016). A two year follow up study of group metacognitive therapy for depression in Norway. Journal of Depression and Anxiety, 5, 227. https://doi.org/10.4172/2167-1044.1000227.
Gaynor, S. T., & Lawrence, P. (2002). Complementing CBT for depressed adolescents with Learning through In Vivo Experience (LIVE): conceptual analysis, treatment description, and feasibility study. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 30, 79–101. https://doi.org/10.1017/S135246580200108X.
Gorenstein, C., & Andrade, L. (1996). Validation of a Portuguese version of the Beck Depression Inventory and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory in Brazilian subjects. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 29, 453–457.
Gorenstein, C., Andrade, L., Vieira Filho, A. H. G., Tung, T. C., & Artes, R. (1999). Psychometric properties of the Portuguese version of the Beck Depression Inventory on Brazilian college students. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 55, 553–562.
Hagen, R., Hjemdal, O., Solem, S., Kennair, L. E., Nordahl, H. M., Fisher, P., & Wells, A. (2017). Metacognitive therapy for depression in adults: a waiting list randomized controlled trial with six months follow-up. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 31. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00031.
Hans, E., & Hiller, W. (2013). Effectiveness of and dropout from outpatient cognitive behavioral therapy for adult unipolar depression: a meta-analysis of nonrandomized effectiveness studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81, 75–88.
Hays, P. A., & Iwamasa, G. Y. (2008). Culturally responsive cognitive-behavioral therapy. assessment, practice and supervision. Washington: American Psychological Association.
Hoekstra, R., & Tsai, M. (2013). FAP for interpersonal process groups. In J. W. Kanter, M. Tsai, & R. J. Kohlenberg (Eds.), The practice of functional analytic psychotherapy (pp. 247–260). New York: Springer.
Holtforth, M. G., Altenstein, D., Ansell, E., Schneider, C., & Caspar, F. (2012). Impact messages of depressed outpatients as perceived by their significant others: profiles, therapeutic change, and relationship to outcome. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68, 319–333.
Jacobson, N. S., & Truax, P. (1991). Clinical significance: a statistical approach to defining meaningful change in psychotherapy research. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59(1), 12–19.
Kendall, P. C., Hollon, S. D., Beck, A. T., Hammen, C. L., & Ingram, R. E. (1987). Issues and recommendations regarding use of the Beck Depression Inventory. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 11, 289–299.
Kohlenberg, R. J., Kanter, J., Bolling, M., Parker, C., & Tsai, M. (2002). Enhancing cognitive therapy for depression with functional analytic psychotherapy: treatment guidelines and empirical findings. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9, 213–229.
Kohlenberg, R. J., & Tsai, M. (1987). Functional analytic psychotherapy. In N. S. Jacobson (Ed.), Psychotherapists in clinical practice: cognitive and behavioral perspectives (pp. 388–443). New York: Guilford.
Landes, S. J., Kanter, J. W., Weeks, C. E., & Busch, A. M. (2013). The impact of the active components of functional analytic psychotherapy on idiographic target behaviors. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 2, 49–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcbs.2013.03.004.
Lizarazo, N. E., Muñoz-Martínez, A., Santos, M., & Kanter, J. (2015). A within subjects evaluation of the effects of functional analytic psychotherapy on in-session and out-of-session client behavior. The Psychological Record, 65, 463–474.
Locke, K. D., Sayegh, L., Penberthy, J. K., Weber, C., Haentjens, K., & Turecki, G. (2016). Interpersonal circumplex profiles of persistent depression: goals, self-efficacy, problems, and effects of group therapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 73, 595–611.
Maitland, D. W. M., & Gaynor, S. T. (2016). Functional analytic psychotherapy compared with supportive listening: an alternating treatments design examining distinctiveness, session evaluations, and interpersonal functioning. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice, 16, 52–64.
Maitland, D. W. M., Petts, R. A., Knott, L. E., Briggs, C. A., Moore, J. A., & Gaynor, S. T. (2016). A randomized controlled trial of functional analytic psychotherapy versus watchful waiting: enhancing social connectedness and reducing anxiety and avoidance. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice, 16, 103–122.
McEvoy, P. M., Burgess, M. M., & Nathan, P. (2013). The relationship between interpersonal problems, negative cognitions, and outcomes from cognitive behavioral group therapy for depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 150, 266–275.
Michalak, J., Schultze, M., Heidenreich, T., & Schramm, E. (2015). A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy of mindfulness based cognitive therapy and a group version of cognitive behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy for chronically depressed patients. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83(5), 951–963.
Rosen, G. M., & Davison, G. C. (2003). Psychology should list empirically supported principles of change (ESP) and not credential trademarked therapies or other treatment packages. Behavior Modification, 27, 300–312.
Sayegh, L., Locke, K. D., Pistilli, D., Penberthy, J. K., Chachamovich, E., McCullough, J. P., & Turecki, G. (2012). Cognitive behavioural analysis system of psychotherapy for treatment-resistant depression: adaptation to a group modality. Behaviour Change, 29, 97–108.
Thimm, J. C., & Antonsen, L. (2014). Effectiveness of cognitive behavioral group therapy for depression in routine practice. BMC Psychiatry, 14, 292. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-014-0292-x.
Tsai, M., Kohlenberg, R. J., Kanter, J. W., Holman, G. I., & Loudon, M. P. (2012). Functional analytic psychotherapy: distinctive features. Hove: Routledge.
Vandenberghe, L. (2008). Culture-sensitive functional analytic psychotherapy. The Behavior Analyst, 31, 67–79.
Vandenberghe, L. (2009). A functional analytic approach to group therapy. The Behavior Analyst Today, 10, 71–82.
Vandenberghe, L. (2015). Functional analytic group therapy. In E. S. Neukrug (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of theory in counseling and psychotherapy (pp. 442–446). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
Vandenberghe, L. (2016). A logical framework for functional analytic group therapy. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 23, 464–472.
Vila, M. B. Aguiar, A. A. R., & Del Prette, Z. A. P. (2011). Psicoinfo. http://psicoinfo.ufscar.br/site/ .
Villas-Bôas, A., Meyer, S. B., & Kanter, J. W. (2016). The effects of analyses on clinically relevant behaviors and out-of-session changes in functional analytic psychotherapy. The Psychological Record, 66, 599–609.
Wang, P. S., Lane, M., Olfson, M., Pincus, H. A., Wells, K. B., & Kessler, R. C. (2005). Twelve month use of mental health services in the United States. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 629–640.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments and comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
About this article
Cite this article
Vandenberghe, L., Leite, U.d. Functional Analytic Group Therapy (FAGT) for Depression: a Pilot Study. Psychol Rec 68, 231–238 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-018-0288-x
- Behavioral group therapy
- Functional analysis
- Naturalistic sample