Emotion-Focused Therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: An Exploratory Study

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Abstract

Among psychological therapies for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), cognitive–behavioral therapy has a dominant position as the most studied therapy. However, some researchers have recommended that to increase treatment options and broaden choice for clients, non-cognitive–behavioral therapy models for GAD should be examined. The present study was an exploratory study, assessing pre–post outcomes and 6-month follow-up of emotion-focused therapy for GAD, supplemented by qualitative posttherapy client accounts of helpful and unhelpful aspects of therapy and changes reported since therapy started. Fourteen clients were assessed on several measures focusing on GAD symptoms, depressive symptoms, and general psychological functioning. Quantitative pre–post and 6-month follow-up data indicated large effect sizes. Qualitative data captured changes in emotional functioning, anxiety, self-acceptance, self-confidence, and self-understanding. Clients reported as helpful both relational aspects of the work and in-depth experiential tasks, although some found the experiential aspect of the work difficult. The findings suggest that there may be value in assessing emotion-focused therapy as a treatment for GAD in a randomized controlled trial.

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