Effectiveness of Group CBT with Memory Specificity Training and Self-Distancing in Moderately Depressed Adults

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Authors : Peter John Sabatelli


Memory specificity training (MEST) alone can improve mood associated with depression as found in previous studies. The aim was to build upon and expand on previous MEST and self-distancing (SD) studies by testing the effectiveness and feasibility of seven treatment sessions with a three month follow up of group CBT with MEST and SD in moderately depressed adults in two London Boroughs. Method was to recruit 60 participants from advertisements and a screening process that included administration of questionnaires, the autobiographical memory test (AMT) and Beck depression inventory (BDI-II) and interviewed to confirm they met the inclusion and exclusion criteria, and met symptoms for depression as listed in the DSM-5. Consent was obtained and then block randomising done to ensure a balanced group. There were 55 participants who completed the treatment at all time points and their data and scores on the AMT and BDI-II was used when running a one way repeated ANOVA as this was a within group design with repeated measures, using SPSS 22. The results showed improvements occurred at post-treatment and three month follow up for AMS and BDI-II scores that was statistically significant with large effect sizes at post-treatment and three month follow up. Discussion, the null hypothesis was rejected and the alternative hypothesis was accepted. MEST with self-distancing is an effective and feasible adjunct with CBT in improving memory specificity and mood. Limitations included; the study was not fully blind, no independent therapist, low frequency of supervision for checking manual adherence, no SCID, short follow up period and reduced generalisability. Future research could repeat this study using group CBT as a control, participants recruited from out-patient departments, larger sample size, improve blinding before random allocation, using SCID, frequent supervision and use of an independent therapist.


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