Using cognitive behaviour therapy with South Asian Muslims: Findings from the culturally sensitive CBT project

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2015;27(3):233-46. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2015.1067598. Epub 2015 Jul 27.


It has been suggested that cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) needs adaptation for it to be effective for patients from collectivistic cultures, as currently CBT is underpinned by individualistic values. In prior studies we have demonstrated that CBT could be adapted for Pakistani patients in Southampton, UK, and for local populations in Pakistan. Findings from these studies suggest that CBT can be adapted for patients from collectivistic cultures using a series of steps. In this paper we focus on these steps, and the process of adapting CBT for specific groups. The adaptation process should focus on three major areas of therapy, rather than simple translation of therapy manuals. These include (1) awareness of relevant cultural issues and preparation for therapy, (2) assessment and engagement, and (3) adjustments in therapy. We also discuss the best practice guidelines that evolved from this work to help therapists working with this population. We reiterate that CBT can be adapted effectively for patients from traditional cultures. This is, however, an emerging area in psychotherapy, and further work is required to refine the methodology and to test adapted CBT.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / standards*
  • Culturally Competent Care / methods*
  • Culturally Competent Care / standards*
  • England / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Islam / psychology*
  • Pakistan / ethnology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*