International Journal of Cognitive Therapy
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Randomized clinical trials suggest that cognitive therapy (CT) is comparable to antidepressant medication for the acute treatment of depression. Compelling data also indicate that CT has an added prophylactic benefit relative to pharmacotherapy (PT). The purpose of this study was to examine cognitive change in CT for depression. Participants (N = 42) met diagnostic criteria for a current major depressive episode and were randomly assigned to CT + PT or PT. Participants completed indices of depressive symptomatology, core beliefs (i.e., early maladaptive schemas), and self-attribute redundancy before and after therapy. Self-attribute redundancy was conceptualized as a form of schema organization and operationalized as the number of similar traits that permeate different aspects of self (e.g., as a partner, friend, employee). Treatment change was evident in both groups on self-reported core belief domains, with few between-group differences. Although no group differences were found on attribute redundancy at pre-treatment, there was a significant increase in positive redundancy at post-treatment favoring CT + PT. No group differences were found for negative content. These findings suggest that something about CT may uniquely impact self-representation and that CT may operate by bolstering compensatory schemas.
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