An evaluation of cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment for dissociative seizures: a pilot study

Cogn Behav Neurol. 2004 Mar;17(1):41-9. doi: 10.1097/00146965-200403000-00005.


Objective: To evaluate in an open trial the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment of adults with dissociative seizures (i.e., "pseudoseizures").

Background: Although suggestions have been made concerning the management of patients with dissociative seizures, no studies have previously evaluated the systematic use of cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of this disorder.

Method: Twenty patients diagnosed with dissociative seizures were offered treatment comprising 12 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy. Principal outcome measures were dissociative seizure frequency and psychosocial functioning, including improvement in employment status and mood. Measures were administered before treatment, at the end of treatment, and at a 6-month follow-up.

Results: Treatment was completed by 16 patients (questionnaire measures were not available for 4 patients who discontinued treatment). Following treatment, there was a highly significant reduction in seizure frequency and an improvement in self-rated psychosocial functioning. These improvements were maintained at the 6-month follow-up. There was also a tendency for patients to have improved their employment status between the start of treatment and the 6-month follow-up period.

Conclusions: In this open prospective trial, cognitive behavioral therapy was associated with a reduction in dissociative seizure frequency and an improvement in psychosocial functioning in adults with dissociative seizures.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Dissociative Disorders / complications
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Dissociative Disorders / therapy*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Seizures / therapy*
  • Social Behavior
  • Treatment Outcome