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Does CBT Facilitate Emotional Processing?

  • Roger Baker (a1), Matthew Owens (a2), Sarah Thomas (a1), Anna Whittlesea (a2), Gareth Abbey (a2), Phil Gower (a2), Lara Tosunlar (a2), Eimear Corrigan (a2) and Peter W. Thomas (a1)...

Background: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is not primarily conceptualized as operating via affective processes. However, there is growing recognition that emotional processing plays an important role during the course of therapy. Aims: The Emotional Processing Scale was developed as a clinical and research tool to measure emotional processing deficits and the process of emotional change during therapy. Method: Fifty-five patients receiving CBT were given measures of emotional functioning (Toronto Alexithymia Scale [TAS-20]; Emotional Processing Scale [EPS-38]) and psychological symptoms (Brief Symptom Inventory [BSI]) pre- and post-therapy. In addition, the EPS-38 was administered to a sample of 173 healthy individuals. Results: Initially, the patient group exhibited elevated emotional processing scores compared to the healthy group, but after therapy, these scores decreased and approached those of the healthy group. Conclusions: This suggests that therapy ostensibly designed to reduce psychiatric symptoms via cognitive processes may also facilitate emotional processing. The Emotional Processing Scale demonstrated sensitivity to changes in alexithymia and psychiatric symptom severity, and may provide a valid and reliable means of assessing change during therapy.

Corresponding author
Reprint requests to Roger Baker, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Research and Development Support Unit, Royal London House, Bournemouth University, Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 3LT, UK E-mail:
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