Which therapy works best to treat prolonged grief disorder?

The results

Scientia principal investigator Professor Richard Bryant says that while both therapies had beneficial results at the end of therapy, it was the cognitive behavioral therapy group that showed lasting benefits when participants were contacted again six months after finishing. the therapy.

“While both treatments offered relief during the course of therapy, relapse tended to occur after mindfulness, while treatment benefits continued to occur in the grief-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy group,” says professor Bryant.

Participants in the CBT group also demonstrated greater reductions in depression and grief-related cognition compared to the mindfulness group.

However, Professor Bryant says that while CBT showed longer lasting benefits at six months, this is not to say that the mindfulness approach was not beneficial as a tool to break the pattern of prolonged grief.

“It is true that all trials to date have highlighted CBT as the treatment of choice when dealing with prolonged grief disorder,” she says.

“But our research shows that symptom relief can also be achieved through an alternative approach such as mindfulness.

“This means that if doctors or patients are reluctant to engage in the recommended treatment of cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness can be used as an alternative that has been shown to have a positive effect.”

Looking to the future

Despite the success of these treatments, a proportion of patients did not respond and still experienced problematic grief after treatment.

“The challenge ahead is to determine how we can offer better treatments,” says Professor Bryant.

“The UNSW Traumatic Stress Clinic is currently conducting further trials to determine how CBT can help more people reduce their persistent pain.”

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