Self-regulation models of psychopathology provide a theory-based, empirically supported framework for developing psychotherapeutic interventions that complement and extend current cognitive-behavioral models. However, many clinicians are only minimally familiar with the psychology of self-regulation. The aim of the present manuscript is twofold. First, we provide an overview of self-regulation as a motivational process essential to well-being and introduce two related theories of self-regulation which have been applied to depression. Second, we describe how self-regulatory concepts and processes from those two theories have been translated into psychosocial interventions, focusing specifically on self-system therapy (SST), a brief structured treatment for depression that targets personal goal pursuit. Two randomized controlled trials have shown that SST is superior to cognitive therapy for depressed clients with specific self-regulatory deficits, and both studies found evidence that SST works in part by restoring adaptive self-regulation. Self-regulation-based psychotherapeutic approaches to depression hold significant promise for enhancing treatment efficacy and ultimately may provide an individualizable framework for treatment planning.
Keywords: Depression; anxiety; comorbidity; regulatory focus theory; self-discrepancy theory; self-regulation; self-system therapy.
Conflict of interest statement
Conflict of Interest: Timothy Strauman declares that he has no conflict of interest. Kari Eddington declares that she has no conflict of interest.
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