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01-04-2014 | Commentary | Uitgave 2/2014

Cognitive Therapy and Research 2/2014

Travellers’ Tales in Cognitive Bias Modification Research: A Commentary on the Special Issue

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 2/2014
Elaine Fox, Bundy Mackintosh, Emily A. Holmes


This brief commentary reflects on the current Special Issue on “Cognitive Bias Modification Techniques: Current findings and future challenges”. We consider past perspectives, present findings and future applications of “cognitive bias modification” (CBM) training procedures. In an interview with Marcella L. Woud, Bundy Mackintosh responds with her thoughts as an experienced ‘traveler’, given her pioneering work at the early stages of CBM research. Elaine Fox provides an overview of developments since the last special issue on CBM that she helped to co-edit in 2009, and Emily A. Holmes reflects on what might need to be done in order to translate the results of CBM research into therapeutic practice. All three conclude that, much as we might wish for a CBM ‘tardis’ time travel machine, there is much basic and translational science work to be done before the fruits of CBM research will be seen in the clinic. Systematic, thorough, and collaborative efforts will be needed, and we urge researchers to pay more attention to developing appropriate methodologies to enable the ‘transfer’ of training to clinical symptoms. Given the colossal clinical need to innovate and develop the content and delivery of mental health treatments, CBM research needs to keep travelling slowly, surely, and further. It is important to note that given low intensity of delivery, even studies with small effect sizes may be beneficial at a public health level. We should keep going, but retain strong roots in experimental psychopathology to maintain the quality and understanding of how cognitive factors are central to mental health and to the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.

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