Augmentation of Psychotherapy through Alternative Preconscious Priming: A Case Series Exploring Effects on Residual Symptoms

Front Psychiatry. 2017 Jan 31:8:8. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00008. eCollection 2017.


The current paper describes a case series using a new strategy for facilitating change based on Augmentation of Psychotherapy through Alternative Preconscious Priming (APAP) (1) in the treatment of eight treatment-resistant patients suffering from social phobia or generalized anxiety disorder. The patients had previously only shown a partial response to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) despite good treatment adherence. The patients completed APAP using a computerized program, which consisted of three steps during which alternative, more functional thoughts and beliefs relevant to the idiosyncratic difficulties experienced by the patients were formulated. Subsequently, these formulations were recorded and mixed with masking relaxing music, which the patient listened to in a passive state twice daily for 20 min for a period of 8 weeks. This case series aimed to assess the effect and acceptability of APAP using quantitative and qualitative measures administered before, after, and 16 weeks' posttreatment. Results showed a reduction in dysfunctional idiosyncratic thoughts reported by most patients, as well as mild improvements in anxiety and important improvements in quality of life. APAP could be a valuable addition to CBT by facilitating or enhancing cognitive and symptom change. Further studies are needed to confirm these promising results.

Keywords: generalized anxiety disorder; preconcious; priming; psychotherapy research; social anxiety disorder/social phobia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports