Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has emerged as the therapy with the most efficacy in treating a variety of psychological disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder. To date, it is the form of therapy with the strongest empirical support demonstrating its effectiveness for post-traumatic stress disorder as well as a host of psychological issues. However, although the improvement of PTSD symptoms during CBT is generally accompanied by an increase in quality of life, remission of post-traumatic stress symptoms can occur without an improved quality of life.
This raises the question: why is the remission of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms not associated to an improved quality of life among some patients? This is the research question tackled by the study “Personality beliefs, coping strategies and quality of life in a cognitive-behavioral therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder” in press in the scientific journal European Journal of Trauma and Dissociation to which members of the Trauma Studies Center contributed. This study evaluated the associations between personality beliefs, coping strategies, and quality of life before and after CBT for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The results of this study demonstrate that certain personality beliefs are associated with a greater tendency to use certain coping strategies. For instance, individuals who see themselves as avoidant will have a greater tendency to use distancing coping strategies (e.g., acting as if nothing happened). The results also show that these distancing based strategies are linked to poorer outcomes in terms of quality of life. Results also show that reappraisal coping strategies are associated with better quality of life following CBT. Deeper analyses also showed that the impact of our personality beliefs on quality of life improvements are mediated by their effect on coping strategy. In other words, what is important for the efficacy of CBT in improving quality of life isn’t one’s beliefs themselves, but their impact on one’s coping strategies. The take home message from can possibly best be summarized by the author Gustave Flaubert when he wrote “Courage, I have none of it, but I behave as if I do, which maybe amounts to the same thing.”
Link to article: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejtd.2019.100135