Group CBT may help improve emotion regulation in adults with autism

04 Dec 2022
Group CBT may help improve emotion regulation in adults with autism

Among adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), group-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) appears to yield modest improvements in emotion regulation, a recent study has found.

Researchers conducted a pilot clinical trial with 60 participants who were randomly assigned to receive the group-based CBT intervention (n=31) or to a waitlist control (n=29). The CBT programme lasted for 8 weeks, with each weekly session lasting for approximately 100 minutes. Each session included psychoeducation and emotion regulation exercises administered by a certified PhD-qualified psychologist, along with a master’s level psychologist.

Two patients in the intervention group dropped out, leaving 29 participants in each group available for analysis. Compared with the waitlist control, the CBT intervention led to a significant improvement in scores in the attitude scale of the autism spectrum disorder knowledge and attitude quiz (t, 2.21; p=0.03) after week 8.

Similarly, the active intervention yielded significant benefits for the difficulty describing feelings scale under the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (t, –2.07; p=0.04).

At the 16-week follow-up, participants who underwent CBT also had better scores in the emotion-oriented domain of the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (t, –2.14; p=0.04).

“We found that group-based CBT on emotion regulation for autistic adults improved participants’ attitude towards ASD, their difficulties in describing feelings, and their maladaptive emotion regulation strategies,” the researchers said.

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