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.