Saturday, May 18, 2013

Person-Centered/Experiential Psychotherapy for Anxiety Difficulties: Theory, Research and Practice

Entry for 17 May 2013:

Last July, about a week after my return from California after the two months I spent helping care for my mother, I gave my first keynote presentation to a conference of the World Association for Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies.  The talk, given in Antwerp, Belgium, was the basis for an article just published in Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies.  It combines selected results from two studies: the 2008 humanistic-experiential psychotherapy outcome meta-analysis that Beth  Freire and I carried out with support from British Association for the Person-Centre Approach; and the First Strathclyde Social Anxiety Project, largely funded by grants from the New Professors Fund by the University of Strathclyde and by Counselling Unit internal funds. 

I am deeply appreciative of the help I received in carrying out the research on which this article is based, including the clients, volunteer therapists, students, research associates, and members of the Social Anxiety Study Group, University of Strathclyde, 2006-2012, especially my colleagues Brian Rodgers, Beth Freire, Susan Stephen, Lorna Carrick, Lucia Berdondini, and Mick Cooper.   In addition, Les Greenberg and Ann Weiser Cornell made helpful contributions to the theory sections of this article.  Finally, I have dedicated this article to the memory of my mother, Ann Helena Kearney Elliott, 7 April 1929 – 22 June 2012.

Although the article has been available on the publisher’s website since March, it was very nice to receive the hard copy of it the other day.

Elliott, R. (2013). Person-Centered-Experiential Psychotherapy for Anxiety Difficulties: Theory, Research and Practice.  Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, 12, 14-30. DOI:10.1080/14779757.2013.767750

Abstract: Anxiety difficulties are an increasingly important focus for person-centered-experiential (PCE) psychotherapies.  I begin by reviewing person-centered, focusing-oriented, and emotion-focused therapy (EFT) theories of anxiety.  Next, I summarize a meta-analysis of 19 outcome studies of PCE therapies for adults with anxiety, most commonly supportive or person-centered therapies (PCT) carried out by cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) researchers.  The results indicate large pre-post change but a clear inferiority to CBT.  I then summarize promising early results from an ongoing study of PCT and EFT for social anxiety, which show large amounts of pre-post change for both forms of PCE therapy but substantially more change for clients in the EFT condition.  I conclude with a discussion of the implications for PCE therapy practice, including the value of process differentiation and the possibility of developing more effective PCE approaches for anxiety.