12th September 2023 Newsletter
This week we’re bringing you two new cognitive distortion resources: Overgeneralization and “Should” Statements. We’re also expanding our available Spanish resources with the release of two guides: Understanding Psychosis and Understanding Social Anxiety.
In our research roundup, we cover a systematic review and meta-analysis of psychological treatments for irritable bowel syndrome. We also explore a fascinating paper looking at the use of silence in clinical settings. Enjoy!
Humans have a natural tendency to generalize: they use past experiences to guide new behaviors and actions. If people were unable to generalize, they wouldn’t be able to apply what they had learned in one situation to other situations that were slightly different. However, there are times when people generalize too much.
“Should” statements are a common cognitive distortion or ‘unhelpful thinking style’. They are characterized by imposing fixed ‘rules’ on how the self, others, and the world should operate, coupled with overestimations of how awful it would be if these expectations are not met.
New Spanish Translations
Our ‘Understanding…’ series is a collection of psychoeducation guides for common mental health conditions. The Understanding Psychosis guide is designed to help clients with psychosis understand more about their condition, and why it might not get better by itself.
Understanding Social Anxiety
It is common to feel a bit of anxiety around other people from time to time. If the anxiety is more severe than regular shyness, and interferes with an individual’s ability to live their life, they may be suffering from social anxiety disorder. It is thought that between 2 and 7 people out of every 100 experience social anxiety disorder every year.
Psychological Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects many people, causing recurring abdominal pain and digestive problems. While various psychological treatments have shown promise in alleviating IBS symptoms, their relative effectiveness remains unclear. In this comprehensive paper, the researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 118 studies spanning four decades. The analysis revealed that exposure therapy and hypnotherapy demonstrated significant improvements in IBS severity compared to controls. Notably, exposure therapy retained its effectiveness even after adjusting for other factors, while hypnotherapy’s added effect diminished. However, further head-to-head comparisons are needed to establish definitive conclusions. Overall, exposure therapy seems to be a promising treatment option for IBS, shedding light on potential avenues for future research and improved care.
“In a further adjusted model that also included other key putative effect moderators, exposure therapy but not hypnotherapy remained significantly superior compared to attention controls… The other treatment categories tested—CBT, CT, CT with relaxation, mindfulness, patient education, relaxation, and self-management—were not significantly different from attention controls on improvement in overall IBS symptom severity.”
Axelsson, E., Kern, D., Hedman-Lagerlöf, E., Lindfors, P., Palmgren, J., Hesser, H., … & Ljótsson, B. (2023). Psychological treatments for irritable bowel syndrome: a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 1-20.
Psychotherapists' Use of Silence in Clinical Settings
Silence is an important part of therapy and one that can have positive and negative effects. Done well, silence shows empathy, respect, and support, and creates a safe space for clients to explore their thoughts and feelings. Done badly, silence can also make clients feel anxious and abandoned. In this qualitative study, Michael Montgomery and colleagues explore psychotherapists’ perspectives and experiences of using silence in their work. Their results highlight the importance of attending to clients’ individual needs and comfort, as well as timing: silence is often most effective in the later stages of treatment once a robust therapeutic alliance has been established.
“Silence can be powerful and ambiguous, and its effective use requires skill tailored to the therapeutic needs of the client after forming a strong therapeutic alliance. The therapist–client relationship is crucial for effective practice, and the use of silence can create space for embodied attunement and presencing, activating a neurobiological experience of safety that supports deeper therapy.”
Montgomery, M. R., Luca, M., & Gordon‐Finlayson, A. (2023). The shifting sound of silence: A constructivist grounded theory. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.