Welcome to the October 2017 newsletter from Psychology Tools. It contains a collection of the best psychology resources, news and links from around the web. Some highlights this month include a long-planned Psychology Tools information sheet about Common Reactions To Trauma, and a link to a great presentation about critiquing psychiatric diagnosis.

– Matthew


  • Reactions To Trauma is a clear but information-rich handout designed for clients who have experienced trauma. It is available for free here. If you would like to help by translating it into your language the translation template is here (just complete it and email it to [email protected])
  • Thanks to the amazing work of translators we have now broken the 1000-translated-resources barrier. As of today there are 1064 translated resources across 46 languages – meaning that whatever language your client speaks there’s a good chance that you can find a tool to help. Find out how you can get involved.


  • If you only follow one link from this newsletter make sure it’s this one. We need to get better at critiquing psychiatric diagnosis is essential reading from Vaughan Bell at the MindHacks blog:
    “I think we’d be better off if we treated diagnoses more like tools, and less like ideologies. They may be more or less helpful in different situations, and at different times, and for different people”
  • Jaak Panksepp’s TEDx talk on the science of emotions is worth a watchA fascinating first-person account from a participant in the MAPS MDMA for PTSD study. I’ve been following this research for a long time, and am very glad to see it advancing. There are interesting theoretical parallels between the mind-set/state that trauma therapists using compassion-focused approaches try to help clients achieve, and the state achieved by this chemical short-cut. From the article:
    “During my medicine-assisted session, I had a vision where I could see her quite vividly. She was sitting in a corner of a small bedroom on the floor with her knees to her chest. Her hair was covering her face in attempt to protect her from making eye contact with anyone, including me.
    The adult version of me came up and placed my hand on top of hers, letting loving energy flow freely between the two of us. I assured her that as hard and confusing as things were, one day she would find out that eventually things would get better.”




This is a methods paper with practical implications. The authors of this study examined the factors best which predict which patients are more likely to drop out from ACT vs CBT interventions for anxiety. Some select quotes:
“These findings suggest that patients who perceived that they had high control of their internal anxiety states, were taking medication for anxiety, identified as religious, and discontinued a hyperventilation task earlier (i.e., were more avoidant of the physiological arousal symptoms of anxiety) were more likely to drop out of ACT than CBT. In contrast, those who perceived having less internal control over their anxiety, did not take medication, were not religious, and continued a hyperventilation task longer (i.e., were less avoidant of physiological arousal) were more likely to drop out of CBT than ACT.”
“Although speculative, these profiles appear to represent two groups: The first, who are more likely to drop out of ACT than CBT (e.g., are more likely to be retained in CBT), appear to be “anxiety managers.” This profile included patients who took medication for anxiety, perceived that they have some control over anxiety, and were more avoidant of an anxiety-inducing task.”
“Thus, traditional CBT for anxiety disorders, which focuses on fear reduction as a goal of exposure and coping skills (e.g., cognitive restructuring) to manage and control anxiety, appears to be more acceptable to individuals who even before treatment begins, already perceive that they can control or are motivated to maintain control of their anxiety.”

  • Niles, A. N., Wolitzky-Taylor, K. B., Arch, J. J., & Craske, M. G. (2017). Applying a novel statistical method to advance the personalized treatment of anxiety disorders: A composite moderator of comparative drop-out from CBT and ACT. Behaviour research and therapy91, 13-23.



This RCT in JAMA compared standard disorder-specific treatment protocols for anxiety disorders with a transdiagnostic unified protocol, finding treatment equivalence for both treatment types. It indicates that we should all become more familiar with transdiagnostic mechanisms and treatment approaches.

  • Barlow, D. H., Farchione, T. J., Bullis, J. R., Gallagher, M. W., Murray-Latin, H., Sauer-Zavala, S., … & Ametaj, A. (2017). The Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders Compared With Diagnosis-Specific Protocols for Anxiety Disorders A Randomized Clinical Trial. Jama Psychiatry74(9), 875-884.