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Modular psychotherapy flexibly addresses the needs of depressive patients
with early trauma


Sabine C. Herpertz from ZI-HUb together with Elisabeth Schramm (Freiburg) currently performs a first DFG-funded randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the efficacy and feasibility of a modular psychotherapy in Germany.


Modular psychotherapy means a personalized approach to treating psychiatric patients, in this case depressive patients, whereby one to three intervention modules are selected to target the specific functional impairments of patients in addition to treating the depressive syndrome with Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy (CBT).


The modules taken from evidence based programs, such as Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP), Mentalization-based Therapy (MBT), and Mindfulness-based treatment, target typical dysfunctions that are critically related to early trauma: the negative valence system, namely social threat hypersensitivity, the system of social processes, namely understanding mental states, and the affect regulation system, namely emotional awareness.


This modular psychotherapy protocol provides a structured approach to tailoring treatment to fit patient needs by addressing inter-individual differences and comorbidity. A primary goal of this feasibility study is to refine an algorithm for the sequential selection of modules in addition to providing initial evidence of the efficacy and the acceptability of the program to therapists and patients. We hope that this modular approach improves the outcome of psychotherapy in patients with comorbid depression and a history of early trauma known to often show a poor response to disorder-specific psychotherapy.

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