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Basic Research Findings for the Practicing Clinician

Journal of Psychotherapy Integration

Practice-Oriented Evidence Reviews 

Practice-oriented evidence reviews - co-edited by Michael J. Constantino and Marvin R. Goldfried - is a recurring series in the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. This series underscores the importance of translating basic behavioral science research to the clinical situation, thus privileging both cross-discipline and science-practice integration.

The spirit of the practice-oriented evidence review is to synthesize current knowledge from a basic science realm on human behavior, and to spell out the implications of this knowledge base for practitioners and practice-focused researchers. As just a few examples, such reviews focus on the clinical implications of research on psychopathology, attributional style, close relationships, emotion, stereotyping, etc. Other possibilities might deal with intergroup conflict, neuroscience, behavioral genetics, and emotion. In addition to linking the research findings to practice, the reviews also highlight potential future research directions that lie at the interface of clinical psychology and the relevant basic behavioral science domain(s).

We envision that the practice-oriented evidence review can be authored by a knowledgeable psychotherapy researcher who is cross-trained in a basic behavioral science, or co-authored by a basic science researcher and a practitioner or student working “in the trenches.” Whatever the format, authors should structure the paper in a manner that keeps returning to the central questions:

  1. What are the most likely connections between research findings in this basic science domain and direct clinical practice?
  2. What types of future integrative research designs would best advance knowledge at the basic-applied psychology intersection?

We also invite process research reviews that are written for clinicians. These reviews can focus on traditional psychotherapy process variables or process research that has followed clinical trial work, such as moderators and mediators of treatment effects. The overarching goal remains translational reviews; however, the scope can now expand beyond just basic research to also include psychotherapy process research directly written for the practicing clinician.

Although variability in length is expected based on the topic, reviews should be a maximum of 8,000 words inclusive of an abstract, references, tables, and figures. Authors should also limit their use of references in the service of highlighting the clinical implications.

Interested authors should contact either of the co-editors (mconstantino@psych.umass.edu and/or marvin.goldfried@stonybrook.edu) to determine if their proposed paper fits the series. If so, the authors should first submit their work directly to both co-editors. If after the co-editors’ review the paper is accepted for submission, the authors will then submit the manuscript through the online portal, selecting “special section” as the paper type. For interested authors, we can also send a suggested outline template to guide preparation of the report. We look forward to your submissions!


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2018, Vol. 28, No. 3, 235–268

Clinical Implications of a General Psychopathology Factor:
A Cognitive–Behavioral Transdiagnostic Group Treatment for Community Mental Health

Matthew A. Meier and Madeline H. Meier
Arizona State University

Research  on  the  underlying  structure  of  psychopathology  has  found  that  a  single general  psychopathology  factor  may  underlie  all  mental  disorders.  This  finding  is consistent with decades of research showing that the same risk factors are associated with  many  different  disorders.  We  review  these  findings  and  discuss  a  primary implication: that clinicians could potentially use the same treatment for individuals with different and comorbid mental disorders. Such a transdiagnostic approach is not a new concept,  but  these  treatments  are  receiving  renewed  interest.  Recently  developed transdiagnostic  treatments  have  been  shown  to  be  effective  in  research  settings,  but these treatments do not meet several community mental health needs. Consequently, we provide an evidence-based rationale for a continuous-enrollment, fully transdiagnostic cognitive–behavioral group treatment that is informed by research on the structure of psychopathology. We conclude with suggestions for future research that integrate basic science research, treatment research, and clinical practice.


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2018, Vol. 28, No. 1, 1–13

The Elusive Connection Between Stress and Infertility:
A Research Review With Clinical Implications

Joann Paley Galst
New York, New York

This article reviews research exploring the interface of stress and infertility, attempting to answer the following questions: Does infertility cause stress? Does stress impact fertility? Does infertility treatment cause stress? Does stress impact treatment outcomes? Can stress reduction effect treatment distress and outcomes? Is there residual stress after treatment? Recommendations are made to mental health professionals to help their infertile patients cope more effectively with infertility stress, and suggestions are offered for future research directions.


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration

Mental Imagery:
From Basic Research to Clinical Practice

Simon E. Blackwell
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Mental imagery has long been used in psychological therapies, but only more recently has  research  started  to  illuminate  the  relevant  scientific  basis.  Research  shows  that mental imagery is widely prevalent in everyday life, such as when remembering the past  or  thinking  about  the  future,  and  that  it  is  a  form  of  thought  that  can  have  a particularly  strong  impact  on  emotion,  cognition,  and  behavior.  Investigations  of mental  imagery  within  clinical  populations  reveal  a  range  of  imagery  dysfunctions across  many  disorders.  Research  highlights  the  importance  of  asking  about  mental imagery  at  assessment  and  considering  mental-imagery-based  treatment  techniques.Drawing on scientific research, mental imagery may be used in therapy not only within the context of established techniques such as imagery rescripting but also more broadly to enhance emotional, cognitive, and behavioral change. An awareness of this research can enhance practitioners’ confidence in the scientific basis for the relevance of mental imagery in clinical practice.


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration

Black American Psychological Help-Seeking Intention:
An Integrated Literature Review With Recommendations for Clinical Practice

Renée E. Taylor and Ben C. H. Kuo
University of Windsor

Cumulative research has indicated that Black Americans underutilize voluntary mental health services. This review article adopts the theory of planned behavior (TPB; Ajzen,1991) model as an organizing conceptual framework to demonstrate how a variety of factors  contribute  to  Black  Americans’  reluctance  to  seek  psychological  help.  These factors  include  perceived  negative  consequences  associated  with  seeking  help  (i.e.,mental  illness  stigma);  social  pressure  against  psychological  help-seeking  (i.e., endorsement of beliefs, such as “Black people do not get mental illness,” “Black people must be strong,” and/or “Black people who seek professional help have less faith in God”);  and  perceived  difficulties  associated  with  seeking  professional  help  (e.g.,cultural mistrust, microaggressions in therapy). This article then suggests approaches that practitioners can use to encourage mental health service use in this population, such as reducing mental illness stigma through psychoeducation; discussing the influences of race/ethnicity and culture in therapy; and preventing and addressing microaggressions in  therapy.  Finally,  the  article  discusses  directions  for  future  research  to  further investigate how to better understand and encourage psychological help-seeking intention in the Black community.


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2017, Vol. 27, No. 4, 439–444

Crossing Boundaries for Borderline Personality Disorder:
Comment on Dixon-Gordon, Peters, Fertuck, and Yen (2016)

Kevin S. McCarthy
Chestnut Hill College and University of Pennsylvania

Anne P. Taylor
University of North Carolina

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex disorder of interpersonal and affective instability. Attempts to investigate it empirically have produced equally complicated findings.Dixon-Gordon, Peters, Fertuck, and Yen (2016) propose a translational factor—emotion processing—that might moderate the conflicting evidence and explain how therapies of different orientations can each successfully ameliorate symptom distress in individuals with BPD. The authors use a case example to illustrate how the literature can be used to transform the work around emotion processing in BPD. In this commentary, we highlight additional ways in which Dixon-Gordon et al.’s synthesis helps integrate research into practice strategies for BPD and identifies commonalities across theoretical approaches.We also note how this overview of the literature exposes a multitude of assumptions and gaps in the research and suggest that these are in fact opportunities for clinical and theoretical observations to advance what we can know about the disorder.


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2017, Vol. 27, No. 4, 425–438

Emotional Processes in Borderline Personality Disorder:
An Update for Clinical Practice

Katherine L. Dixon-Gordon
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jessica R. Peters
Alpert Brown Medical School

Eric A. Fertuck
The City College of New York

Shirley Yen
Alpert Brown Medical School

Despite prior assumptions about poor prognosis, the surge in research on borderline personality disorder (BPD) over the past several decades shows that it is treatable and can have a good prognosis. Prominent theories of BPD highlight the importance of emotional dysfunction as core to this disorder. However, recent empirical research suggests a more nuanced view of emotional dysfunction in BPD. This research is reviewed in the present article, with a view towards how these laboratory-based findings can influence clinical work with individuals suffering from BPD.

Email: katiedg@psych.umass.edu


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2017, Vol. 27, No. 2, 127–139

Traumatic Bereavement: Basic Research and Clinical Implications

Nicole Barlé
Stony Brook University

Camille B. Wortman
Stony Brook University

Jessica A. Latack
Stony Brook University

Losing a loved one suddenly or under traumatic circumstances often leaves survivors completely overwhelmed, their lives fundamentally changed. Survivors experience what is termed traumatic bereavement, which is associated with enduring symptoms of trauma, such as intrusive thoughts, and of grief, such as yearning for the loved one. Research has found that in most cases, the symptoms associated with traumatic loss are significantly more intense and prolonged than those following a natural death. They are also more pervasive, affecting virtually all aspects of the survivor’s life. Moreover, it has also been found that survivors of traumatic loss often have difficulty accepting what has happened, struggle with issues surrounding responsibility and guilt, question their religious beliefs, worry that their loved one may have suffered, and live in fear that they or someone in their family will also die. In this article, we review basic research on the domains of life affected by a traumatic loss and the risk factors that heighten survivors’ vulnerability to traumatic bereavement. We then describe a comprehensive treatment approach, which is based on the available research on traumatic bereavement, specifically developed for survivors of sudden, traumatic loss. The treatment involves 3 critical components: building resources, processing trauma, and facilitating mourning.

Email: camille.wortman@stonybrook.edu


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2016, Vol 26, No 2, 103-115

Cognitive Attributions in Depression:
Bridging the Gap between Research and Clinical Practice

Liza M. Rubenstein, Rachel D. Freed, and Robert L. Fauber
Temple University

Benjamin G. Shapero
Massachusetts General Hospital

Lauren B. Alloy
Temple University

Individuals seeking treatment for depression often are struggling with maladaptive cognitions that impact how they view themselves and the world. Research on cognitive attributions that underlie depressed mood focuses on the phenomenon of negative cognitive style, in which depressed people tend to view undesirable occurrences in life as having internal, stable, and global causes. Based on research, clinicians have developed various techniques that seek to modify depressive attributions in order to alleviate symptoms of depression. In this article, the authors review the literature on attributions in depression, present clinically relevant interventions based on empirical support, provide case examples, and summarize future directions and recommendations for researchers and practitioners.

Email: lalloy@temple.edu


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2016, Vol 26, No 2, 91-102

Perceived Control and Mindfulness: Implications for Clinical Practice

Francesco Pagnini
Harvard University and Universita` Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Katherine Bercovitz
Harvard University

Ellen Langer
Harvard University

A broad range of studies conducted over the past 50 years suggest that perceived control is an important construct to physical health and psychological well-being. When people feel that they can exert control, they demonstrate better immune responses, cardiovascular functioning, physical strength, increased longevity, increased life satisfaction, and decreased anxiety and depressive symptoms. The authors discuss how perceived control can be understood through lens of mindfulness without meditation. In this framework, mindfulness is defined as the act of noticing new things, a process that promotes flexible responding to the demands of the environment. It is the opposite of mindlessness, which describes the over-reliance on previously learned categories. Both lack of perceived control and mindlessness are rooted in rigidity and a view of the world as unchangeable. The authors present insights into how clinicians can use Langerian mindfulness to improve the perception of control, and therefore well-being, in their clients.

E-mail: francesco.pagnini@unicatt.it


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2016, Vol 26, No 2, 116-128

An Integrative Theory of Psychotherapy: Research and Practice

Seymour Epstein
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Martha L. Epstein
Park City, Utah

A dual-process personality theory and supporting research are presented. The dual processes comprise an experiential system and a rational system. The experiential system is an adaptive, associative learning system that humans share with other higher-order animals. The rational system is a uniquely human, primarily verbal, reasoning system. It is assumed that when humans developed language they did not abandon their previous ways of adapting, they simply added language to their experiential system. The 2 systems are assumed to operate in parallel and are bidirectionally interactive. The validity of these assumptions is supported by extensive research. Of particular relevance for psychotherapy, the experiential system, which is compatible with evolutionary theory, replaces the Freudian maladaptive unconscious system that is indefensible from an evolutionary perspective, as subhuman animals would then have only a single system that is maladaptive. The aim of psychotherapy is to produce constructive changes in the experiential system. Changes in the rational system are useful only to the extent that they contribute to constructive changes in the experiential system.

Seymour Epstein passed away shortly before this article appeared

E-mail: mepsteinagain@comcast.net


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2015, Vol. 25, No. 2, 59–70

I-Sharing on the Couch: On the Clinical Implications of Shared Subjective Experience

Elizabeth C. Pinel - University of Vermont

Samantha L. Bernecker - University of Massachusetts–Amherst

Nolan M. Rampy - University of Vermont

When 2 or more people believe that they are having an identical subjective experience, they believe that they “I-share.” I-sharing fosters connectedness (Pinel, Long, Landau, Alexander, & Pyszczynski, 2006), overcomes group boundaries (Pinel & Long, 2012), and facilitates prosocial behaviors (Huneke & Pinel, 2015; Johnson, Pinel, & Long, 2014). After reviewing the construct of I-sharing, the related construct of existential isolation, and the pertinent data, we highlight applications of this work to the clinical realm. In particular, we consider the potential for I-sharing to improve the therapeutic alliance, extratherapeutic relationships, and treatment outcomes.

E-mail: epinel@uvm.edu


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2014, Vol. 24, No. 1, 1–12

The Problem Is My Partner: Treating Couples When One Partner
Wants the Other to Change

Kieran T. Sullivan
Santa Clara University

Joanne Davila
Stony Brook University

Partners commonly present to couple therapy expecting that the relationship will only improve if their partner changes. In other words, the partner is the problem. In this article, the authors review research on people’s capacity for change, the process of behavior change, and personality change, especially the role of attachment theory. They then review techniques for working with couples based on empirically validated approaches to couple therapy and general change principles in therapy. Finally, the authors present a case study and recommendations for working with change-demanding couples, emphasizing the importance of focusing on emotional acceptance.

E-mail: ksullivan@scu.edu


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2014, Vol. 24, No. 3, 155–167

Basic Science and Clinical Application of the Contrast Avoidance Model in Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Michelle G. Newman
The Pennsylvania State University

Sandra J. Llera
Towson University

Thane M. Erickson
Seattle Pacific University

Amy Przeworski
Case Western Reserve University

The Contrast Avoidance model (Newman & Llera, 2011) proposes that individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are excessively sensitive to negative emotional shifts (contrasts) in response to unpleasant events, and thus recruit a state of sustained intrapersonal negativity via worry as a defensive stance against such shifting states. Here we review the basic science related to environmental, psychological, and biological risk factors in the development of such emotional sensitivities in GAD, and present evidence supporting the position that worry and maladaptive interpersonal styles are employed as defensive strategies to protect against emotional contrasts. We present 2 case examples to elucidate these issues, as well as to introduce specific clinical recommendations for targeting and treating these behaviors. Suggestions for future avenues of research are also discussed.

E-mail: mgn1@psu.edu


Journal of Psychotherapy Integration
2014, Vol. 24, No. 1, 13-24

Cognitive Distortion in Interpersonal Relations: Clinical Implications of Social Cognitive Research on Person Perception

Susan M. Andersen and Elizabeth Przybylinski
New York University

Everyday interactions with new people are often influenced by an individual’s inter-personal history, which affects perceptions of and behavior toward new people, and one’s own sense of self in the moment. Biases in interpersonal perception arise from the activation and use of relational knowledge, including mental representations of specific significant others from the individual’s life, enabling past relationships to pervade newones. Research on this social–cognitive process, and the relational self that is activated in such contexts, suggests that it occurs as a “normal” nonclinical process outside of the therapy setting. Here, we review the theoretical framework and evidence of this social–cognitive process, including how it is triggered (and why) and with what consequences, for better or for worse, in the context of daily living and in treatment. Wealso address clinical implications, with a focus on how problematic relationship patterns arising in this way can be changed if they lead to personal suffering for the individual.


 

For more on closing the gap between research and practice, click
here
visit the The Two-Way Bridge Between Research & Practice website, where practicing therapists have disseminated their clinical observations on important issues that can be investigated by the researcher.

 

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