Addressing Neuroticism in Psychological Treatment

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Abstract

Neuroticism has long been associated with psychopathology and there is increasing evidence that this trait represents a shared vulnerability responsible for the development and maintenance of a range of common mental disorders. Given that neuroticism may be more malleable than previously thought, targeting this trait in treatment, rather than its specific manifestations (e.g., anxiety, mood, and personality disorders), may represent a more efficient and cost-effective approach to psychological treatment. The goals of the current manuscript are to (a) review the role of neuroticism in the development of common mental disorders, (b) describe the evidence of its malleability, and (c) review interventions that have been explicitly developed to target this trait in treatment. Implications for shifting the focus of psychological treatment to underlying vulnerabilities, such as neuroticism, rather than on the manifest symptoms of mental health conditions, are also discussed.

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