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01-02-2015 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2015

Cognitive Therapy and Research 1/2015

A Randomised Controlled Study of the Effects of the Attention Training Technique on Traumatic Stress Symptoms, Emotional Attention Set Shifting and Flexibility

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 1/2015
Sheila Callinan, Dan Johnson, Adrian Wells


Attention Training (ATT) is a technique used in metacognitive therapy but it has also been shown to produce stand-alone effects. The present study replicates and extends an earlier study of the effects of ATT on traumatic-stress symptoms. A sample of 60 university students who reported a traumatic life event were randomly assigned to either an ATT group (n = 29) or a control group (n = 31). They were exposed to a recorded narrative of their stressful experience before and after the intervention and the primary outcomes were frequency of intrusions and negative affect reported. Secondary outcomes included self-report and performance-based measures of attention flexibility. ATT significantly reduced intrusions and improved negative affect in individuals who had experienced a stressful life event. The technique also appeared to reduce self-focused attention, increase attention flexibility and modified performance on an emotional attention set shifting task. The results suggest that ATT can be beneficial in reducing specific traumatic stress symptoms.

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