Special interest group
Chair: Lucio Sibilia, MD
Co-chair: Mehmet Sungur, MD
Rationale. Assessing psychopathology is a top priority goal both in clinical psychology and in psychotherapy research, and in clinical practice as well with individual patients.
Albeit the effectiveness of psychotherapy methods are currently measured mostly against psychiatric diagnostic conditions, psychiatric diagnoses are currently debated as a solid ground to assess abnormal behaviours. Even after the new DSM-5, a universally shared classification of psychiatric disorders shows inextricable and probably inescapable difficulties.
However, the targets of cognitive-behavioural treatments should be (and usually are) carefully selected after a proper assessment: in clinical practice of CBT such assessment is focused (or should be) not only on patients’ complaints and symptoms, but also on the cognitive-behavioural dysfunctions possibly originating and maintaining them, as suggested by the cognitive-behavioural models of the presenting dysfunctions.
Scientific studies in abnormal psychology have much progressed today and are now much more advanced than decades ago, when behaviour therapy and cognitive-behaviour therapy initially started. These studies have evidenced a limited number of trans-diagnostic mental dysfunctions at different levels (cognitive, behavioral, emotional), which have been found common to several psychiatric diagnostic conditions .
Cognitive-behavioural assessment – thanks to the advancements of clinical research – has now the opportunity to provide a description of psychiatric problems in terms of dimensions used in empirical studies on psychopathology.
EABCT should be specifically interested in such an issue, for a number of reasons:
1. CBT is not just a collection of practical tools. The scientific advancement in psychotherapy and in particular any progress in CBT is to be expected not only from outcome research, but also from more basic research, such as the experimental study of cognitive-behavioral models used for assessing psychopathology.
2. The CLP (Common Language for Psychotherapy) project , run by a Task Force supported by EABCT, has shown that psychotherapy procedures, whatever their theoretical foundations, are generally composed of a limited number of different elements; however no effort has been made so far to match the elements of psychotherapy procedures to the mentioned dysfunctions.
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