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Using behavioural activation in the treatment of depression: a control theory perspective

Authors


  • Author contributions: P. M. developed the format of the paper. All authors contributed to case studies and the drafting of the text. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
  • Declaration of interest: None of the authors have any competing interests to declare with respect to the manuscript.

Abstract

Accessible summary

  • Control theory focuses upon the problems that can arise when we find ourselves being pulled in opposite directions by incompatible goals.
  • The effective implementation of behavioural activation may depend upon clients with depression being able to retain or regain the sense of control that they value.
  • A control theory may offer a useful alternative to the more established behavioural and cognitive approaches towards behavioural activation.

Abstract

Behavioural activation is an intervention that can be used to counteract the typical patterns of withdrawal, avoidance and inactivity that characterize depression. This paper examines the processes of change that may occur during behavioural activation from the perspective of control theory. Some of the key concepts that are associated with control theory are introduced and the process of change that may occur during behavioural activation is illustrated using two case studies. The case studies provide anecdotal evidence which supports the hypothesis that the effective implementation of behavioural activation may depend upon clients being able to retain or regain the sense of control that they value. The differences between a control-theory-based approach and more orthodox behavioural and cognitive approaches are highlighted and the implications of these differences are discussed. Flexible approaches that are informed by control theory, may offer a useful alternative to the more established behavioural and cognitive approaches towards behavioural activation.

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