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Short Course Of Psychotherapy May Modify Psychological Well-Being

Today at the workshop on "Vitality, health and Psychological well-being" which is held in New York City, Chiara Rafanelli, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Bologna, presented the latest data on a psychotherapeutic approach to increasing psychological well being (Well-being Therapy-WBT).

Well-Being Therapy is a novel psychotherapeutic strategy recently developed by a group of Italian investigators headed by Giovanni Fava at the University of Bologna with the aim of improving psychological well-being and quality of life in clinical settings.

WBT is based on Carol Ryff’s multidimensional model of psychological well-being, encompassing six dimensions: autonomy, personal growth, environmental mastery, purpose in life, positive relations and self-acceptance. The goal of this therapy is improving the patients’ levels of psychological well-being according to these dimensions, using cognitive-behavioral techniques.

In this workshop Chiara Rafanelli will outline the background of its development, the structure of well-being therapy, its key concepts and technical aspects, as well as the latest findings and developments. WBT could be applied in different settings: in the residual phase of mood and anxiety disorders as a relapse-preventive strategy; in psychological interventions, as an additional ingredient of cognitive-behavioral packages; in patients with affective disorders who failed to respond to standard pharmacological or psychotherapeutic treatments; in body image disturbances and in adolescents and school psychology. The data obtained suggest its efficacy not only with clinical adult populations, but also in developmental settings.

The data are particularly impressive with children and adolescents involved in a brief (6 sessions) school intervention based on WBT. In a pilot study 111 students randomly assigned to: a) a protocol using theories and techniques derived from cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT); b) a protocol derived from WBT. Assessment before and after interventions was performed using two self-rating scales: Kellner’s Symptom Questionnaire and Ryff’s Psychological Well-Being Scales. Both school-based interventions resulted in a comparable improvement in symptoms and psychological well-being, suggesting that this new school WBT program was effective in decreasing anxiety and increasing well-being in a population of junior high school students.

In another recent investigation this school WBT intervention was improved and adapted for adolescents and high school students. The results of this investigation suggests again that school WBT was particularly effective in improving teenagers’ self-esteem and in treating their anxiety symptoms.

Both these investigations show that a school intervention based on promoting positive emotions and well-being was effective not only in increasing self-esteem and interpersonal relationships among adolescents, but also in decreasing distress, in particular anxiety and somatization.

This new well-being enhancing strategy could play an important role in the prevention of psychological distress in school settings .

Giovanni Andrea Fava | alfa
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