Does emotional reasoning change during cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety?

David Berle*, Michelle L. Moulds, Vladan Starcevic, Denise Milicevic, Anthony Hannan, Erin Dale, Kirupamani Viswasam, Vlasios Brakoulias

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Emotional reasoning refers to the use of subjective emotions, rather than objective evidence, to form conclusions about oneself and the world. It is a key interpretative bias in cognitive models of anxiety disorders and appears to be especially evident in individuals with anxiety disorders. However, the amenability of emotional reasoning to change during treatment has not yet been investigated. We sought to determine whether emotional reasoning tendencies change during a course of routine cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Emotional reasoning tendencies were assessed in 36 individuals with a primary anxiety disorder who were seeking treatment at an outpatient clinic. Changes in anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as emotional reasoning tendencies after 12 sessions of CBT were examined in 25 individuals for whom there was complete data. Emotional reasoning tendencies were evident at pretreatment assessment. Although anxiety and depressive symptoms decreased during CBT, only one of six emotional reasoning interpretative styles (pertaining to conclusions that one is incompetent) changed significantly during the course of therapy. Attrition rates were high and there was not enough information regarding the extent to which therapy specifically focused on addressing emotional reasoning tendencies. Individuals seeking treatment for anxiety disorders appear to engage in emotional reasoning, however routine individual CBT does not appear to result in changes in emotional reasoning tendencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-135
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive Behaviour Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


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