Client interpersonal impacts as mediators of long-term outcome in cognitive-behavioral therapy integrated with motivational interviewing for generalized anxiety disorder Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: A recent trial of generalized anxiety disorder treatment (Westra, H. A., Constantino, M. J., & Antony, M. M. (2016). Integrating Motivational Interviewing With Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder: An Allegiance-Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84, 768-782. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000098 ) revealed that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) integrated with motivational interviewing (MI) outperformed CBT alone across a 12-month follow up. The present study examined whether this treatment effect was mediated by MI-CBT clients engaging over time in during-session interpersonal behaviors reflecting more friendly dominance, or agentic actions, and less friendly submissiveness (FS), or trustingly compliant actions both theory-specific MI mechanisms. METHOD: Clients received 15 sessions of MI-CBT (n = 42) or CBT alone (n = 43). Therapists rated client interpersonal behavior following five sessions, and clients rated their worry at baseline, each session, and 6- and 12-month follow up. Mediator and outcome variables were derived from multilevel models. Mediation was tested using a bootstrapping procedure. RESULTS: There was a significant indirect effect for FS. As expected, CBT clients evidenced greater increases in FS than MI-CBT clients, which in turn, though unexpectedly, related to lower 12-month worry. However, long-term CBT outcomes remained inferior to MI-CBT outcomes even with CBT clients'greater increase in FS. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that CBT outcomes are more positive when clients trustingly comply; however, MI-CBT remained superior, but for as yet unexplained reasons.


  • Constantino, Michael J
  • Romano, Felicia M
  • Coyne, Alice E
  • Westra, Henny A
  • Antony, Martin

publication date

  • November 2, 2018