Isolating therapeutic procedures to investigate mechanisms of change in cognitive behavioral therapy for depression

Sanne J.E. Bruijniks*, Marit Sijbrandij, Caroline Schlinkert, Marcus J.H. Huibers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Isolating a therapeutic procedure might be a powerful way to enhance our understanding of how cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) works. The present study explored new methods to isolate cognitive procedures and to study their direct impact on hypothesized underlying processes and CBT outcome.

The effects of a cognitive therapy skill acquisition procedure (n = 36) were compared to no procedure (n = 36) on cognitive therapy skills, dysfunctional thinking, distress, and mood in response to induced distress following a social stress test in healthy participants.

Participants reported more cognitive therapy skills after the procedure that focused on the acquisition of cognitive therapy skills compared to no procedure, but there were no differences in dysfunctional thinking, distress, and mood between the groups.

By demonstrating an experimental approach to investigate mechanisms of change, including the pitfalls that come along with it, the present experiment provides a blueprint for other researchers interested in the underlying mechanisms of change in CBT for depression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychopathology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Article first published online: October 22, 2018


  • Cognitive therapy skills
  • depression
  • therapeutic procedures
  • treatment process
  • Trier social stress test


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