An idiographic analysis of change processes in the unified transdiagnostic treatment of depression

James F. Boswell, Lisa M. Anderson, David H. Barlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Idiographic research methods can provide rich information regarding the process of change in specific treatments. Objective: Adopting an idiographic, exploratory approach, this study examined (a) temporal patterns of 3 transdiagnostic change constructs (mindfulness, cognitive reappraisal, and emotion avoidance), (b) the relationships between these constructs and depression and anxiety symptom severity over time, and (c) changes in these constructs in relation to the introduction of specific transdiagnostic intervention strategies in a single case. Method: The case was a 64-year-old, White, female patient with principal major depressive disorder and secondary generalized anxiety disorder being treated with the Unified Protocol (UP). Univariate and multivariate time series analyses were applied to symptom and change construct data. Results: (a) Clinically significant decreases in depression and anxiety from baseline to posttreatment were observed, as well as clinically significant increases in mindfulness and reappraisal; (b) changes in mindfulness were associated with changes in depression and anxiety, and changes in mindfulness temporally preceded changes in depression and anxiety; (c) changes in reappraisal were associated with changes in depression, and changes in reappraisal temporally preceded changes in depression; (d) the UP module designed to increase present-focused emotion awareness exerted the strongest influence on mindfulness ratings, although other modules had an impact; (e) reappraisal ratings were most strongly influenced by the emotion monitoring and functional analysis module, although subsequent modules continued to have a measureable impact. Conclusions: Although specific to this case, these results begin to elucidate important processes of change in transdiagnostic cognitive-behavioral therapy for principal depression with comorbid anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1060-1071
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Psychological Association.


  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Idiographic case analysis
  • Process
  • Transdiagnostic treatment


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