420 Brief CBT & Need

Research by Chowdhary, Neerja, Anad, A., Dimidjian, S., Shinde, S., Weobong, B., Balaji, M., … & Patel, Vikram. (2015).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, M.S

In countries around the globe, advanced science-based psychological treatments for depression are not available. How can professionals provide these new therapies in the most economical, efficient, and culturally appropriate way?

Focusing on depression in India, a team of psychologists devised a method to develop and pilot-test brief therapy modeled on effective depression treatments, but administered by non-specialist health workers in clinics where psychological treatments were not available. Their resulting Healthy Activity therapy included ideas like problem solving and doing enjoyable activities that expanded social networks. They tested its effectiveness in a randomized controlled trial.

Results? Despite a high 33% dropout rate, 28 Brief Activity Therapy participants completed 6 –8 therapy sessions. After two-months they scored lower on self-report measures of depression compared to 30 having Usual Care.

Lessons learned from this Pilot study? In places without available treatment, non-specialist strained in specific psychological treatments can provide brief therapy to those struggling with depression. This is a model for any global team: review global research evidence, consult locally with patients, families, mental health experts, and lay counselors. Evaluate the devised intervention in clinical cases and pilot studies. Thus, we can help more people suffering from mental health problems!


Chowdhary, N., Anad, A., Dimidjian, S., Shinde, S., Weobong, B., Balaji, M., … & Patel, V. (2015). The healthy activity program lay counselor delivered treatment for severe depression in India: Systematic development and randomized evaluation. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1-8, doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.16107

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