Concentrated, intensive therapy–a new way of treating anxiety disorders

There is “a new wave of concentrated, intensive therapy programs for psychiatric disorders.”  New research is showing that, for both children and adults, the concentrated therapy that takes place through multiple, longer meetings over one or two weeks (sometimes even just one day) “is generally just as effective, and in some ways more effective, as [standard] treatment that is spread out over several months.”  Standard treatment generally involves a one-hour meeting once a week.

The research found that remission rates were not statistically different for children taking part in intensive, concentrated therapy for anxiety disorders versus those in standard therapy.  Plus, fewer participants dropped out of the concentrated therapy compared to the standard therapy–this has been seen in both children and adults.

Another study from 2015 found that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patients who underwent intensive, concentrated therapy “were more improved after treatment ended than those who received traditional weekly or twice-weekly” therapy.  After three months, “both groups were equally improved.”  “The intensive treatments seem to work best for anxiety-related disorders” usually involving cognitive behavioral therapy.

Advantages of the concentrated therapy can include quicker relief from symptoms and delivering treatment to more people (“it’s easier for patients who live in places without access to high-quality therapy to travel for a one- or two-week program” or just “deal with the logistics of weekly therapy”).

While interest in and the popularity of concentrated, intensive therapy is relatively new in the United States, therapists in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, have been developing and using it for a longer period of time.

Read the article (Andrea Petersen, New York Times, August 13, 2018).

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