Daily life constantly requires the resolution of ambiguity. For example, not getting a job or a friend not returning a call can be interpreted in multiple ways. The way in which individuals automatically resolve the countless such ambiguous situations encountered each day has a large impact on how they feel and what they do. A tendency to jump to negative conclusions (interpretation bias) can lead to anxiety, depression, and maladaptive coping. Cognitive therapy has targeted interpretation bias for decades, but it is time-intensive, difficult, and requires a trained clinician.
Led by Dr. Courtney Beard and funded by NIMH, we developed a smartphone app called “HabitWorks” to deliver an interpretation bias intervention personalized to the individual and with engaging features (e.g., instructional videos, progressing through levels). We have conducted pilot testing in patients attending the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program at McLean Hospital, parents of anxious kids, and adults who identify as Black or Hispanic/ Latino/a/x.
Cognitive bias modification for OCD
Led by Dr. Martha Falkenstein we are currently testing the usefulness of types of CBM interventions for patients at the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Institute at McLean Hospital. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is the first line of treatment for OCD, however many patients do not recover. There is a critical need to more efficiently and effectively augment ERP for treatment-resistant OCD, and CBM interventions are a promising strategy. One of our studies is examining the relationship between interpretation bias and mental health outcomes in OCD, and whether targeting interpretation bias in addition to routine care at the OCD Institute helps to improve these outcomes.
Digital CBT Clinic
Led by Dr. Courtney Beard, we are currently testing the real world effectiveness of digital CBT platforms. Funded by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston,
this project aims to address the increased demand for mental health treatment during COVID by providing low-intensity forms of CBT to at least 300 people in the community. We will pilot procedures for a sustainable digital CBT program at McLean. Finally, we will examine predictors of outcome and drop-out, as well as patterns of engagement.