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Placebos, Positivity and Internet Interventions Seminar

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16:30 - 17:30
10 January 2011
School of Psychology, Room 3031, Shackleton Building (Building 44), University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Nicky Baverstock, Postgraduate Administrator on 02380 59 2327 or email .

Event details

Why do self-help interventions work?

Although critical, this question is rarely addressed. Our assumptions regarding how treatments work guide our choice of therapeutic techniques for use in interventions.  Therefore, it is important that we examine these assumptions carefully to avoid unnecessarily limiting the potential of self-help interventions.

In this talk I will discuss some preliminary research that suggests applying placebo theories to self-help interventions could offer novel ways to begin to address problems such as attrition. In three studies involving brief unguided internet administered interventions, keeping gratitude diaries was compared with keeping automatic thought records for a range of symptoms including body dissatisfaction, depressive symptoms and worry. In each case keeping a gratitude diary lead to higher retention, and was equally effective in reducing symptoms as keeping automatic thought records. These preliminary findings will be situated within the broader psychotherapy literature, which suggests that different therapeutic techniques are often equally effective.

I will conclude by discussing the potential for developing techniques based around positive constructs such as gratitude and appreciation, and the benefit these techniques may have when integrated into our internet interventions.

Questions for discussion:

How best can positive techniques be integrated into interventions?

How do we manage the tension between the presumed effectiveness of a technique and its likely effect on adherence?

CAHP members are principal investigators on current grants worth nearly £6 million, funded by ESRC, MRC, NIHR, EC and medical charities
CAHP research group

Speaker information

Dr Adam Geraghty,Senior Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Southampton

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