Strunk DR, Brotman MA, DeRubeis RJ, Hollon SD
J Consult Clin Psychol 2010 Jun;78(3):429-37
OBJECTIVE: The efficacy of cognitive therapy (CT) for depression has been well established. Measures of the adequacy of therapists' delivery of treatment are critical to facilitating therapist training and treatment dissemination. While some studies have shown an association between CT competence and outcome, researchers have yet to address whether competence ratings predict subsequent outcomes.
METHOD: In a sample of 60 moderately to severely depressed outpatients from a clinical trial, we examined competence ratings (using the Cognitive Therapy Scale) as a predictor of subsequent symptom change.
RESULTS: Competence ratings predicted session-to-session symptom change early in treatment. In analyses focused on prediction of symptom change following 4 early sessions through the end of 16 weeks of treatment, competence was shown to be a significant predictor of evaluator-rated end-of-treatment depressive symptom severity and was predictive of self-reported symptom severity at the level of a nonsignificant trend. To investigate whether competence is more important to clients with specific complicating features, we examined 4 patient characteristics as potential moderators of the competence-outcome relation. Competence was more highly related to subsequent outcome for patients with higher anxiety, an earlier age of onset, and (at a trend level) patients with a chronic form of depression (chronic depression or dysthymia) than for those patients without these characteristics. Competence ratings were not more predictive of subsequent outcomes among patients who met (vs. those who did not meet) criteria for a personality disorder (i.e., among personality disorders represented in the clinical trial).
CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide support for the potential utility of CT competence ratings in applied settings.