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Depression Therapy Licensed for Online Distribution

Man with depression

(TypographyImages, Pixabay)

25 May 2020. A therapy program for depression designed to reduce spirals of repeated negative thinking is licensed to a digital mental health company for online use. The treatments known as rumination-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or RFCBT were developed by psychologists at University of Exeter in the U.K., and licensed to Minddstrict in London.

RFCBT’s developers say the treatment addresses repeated cycles of worry and overthinking, called ruminations, a key risk factor for anxiety and depression. The program, developed by Exeter clinical psychology professor Edward Watkins, applies principles of cognitive behavioral therapy to the condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to identify negative or false patterns of beliefs, then test and restructure them. Addressing these patterns, say therapists, allows the individual, working with the therapist, to develop healthier ways of thinking that replace negative beliefs.

In RFCBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to guide people with high levels of ruminations, characterized by repetitive, negative thoughts, to more concrete and specific actions.  A team from Watkins’s Smart Lab, short for study of maladaptive to adaptive repetitive thought, configured the therapy for online administration. In a clinical trial published in May 2019, undergraduate students in the U.K. with high levels of repeated negative thinking and given online RFCBT sessions guided by a therapist, show more reductions in rumination, worry, and depressive symptoms, as well as a lower risk of depression, than those receiving face-to-face psychotherapy alone.

The findings also offer preliminary evidence that participants using only the online program, even without a therapist, benefited from the treatments, indicating the therapy could be a feasible way to help much larger numbers of people deal with repeated ruminations. As a result, the Exeter Smart Lab packaged its online RFCBT into six sessions for self-administration with education, questionnaires, and audio exercises to develop and practice more productive behaviors.

“The goal,” says Watkins in a university statement, “is for the client to learn about the patterns of their worry, rumination and overthinking and to find ways to tackle them, as a means to reduce and prevent stress, anxiety and depression. The client learns about the warning signs for worry and rumination, and useful helpful alternative behaviors to disrupt worry and rumination.”

The university licensed the package to Minddistrict, a digital platform that offers mental health training to individuals, but also to companies as part of their employee assistance programs. The company expects to offer Exeter’s RFCBT package under the brand name MindResolve, to join two other modules already in its catalogue dealing with repeated ruminations. MindResolve is designed for individuals age 15 and over, for use on their own or as part of professional therapy. Financial terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed.

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