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Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again: The Importance of Integrating Cognitive and Emotional Interventions

Mateer, Catherine A. PhD; Sira, Claire S. MA; O'Connell, Megan E. MA

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: January/February 2005 - Volume 20 - Issue 1 - p 62–75
Original Articles

Acquired brain injury commonly results in both cognitive and emotional sequela, and it is increasingly recognized that these domains of functioning interact. Consequently, interventions directed at only or primarily one domain may be confounded by this interaction. To maximize treatment potential, we believe cognitive rehabilitation must integrate both cognitive and emotional interventions, and attend to belief systems about, and affective responses to, cognitive challenges. We review the scant literature addressing the impact of combined interventions for clients with acquired brain injury. Integrated with these reviews are 2 case studies that appear to break treatment “myths." Specifically, we address the notion that emotion-focused treatments are appropriate only for clients with awareness or insight and the notion that cognitive interventions are ineffective, and potentially even contraindicated, for clients whose profile suggests emotional distress and functional, as opposed to neurological, impairments. In each of these cases, we demonstrate that combining cognitive and emotional interventions was not only effective but also even more valuable than previous treatment approaches aimed exclusively at one domain. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of understanding emotional response to, and beliefs about, cognitive difficulties in developing effective interventions.

Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Corresponding author: Catherine A. Mateer, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, PO Box 3050, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V8W 3P5 (e-mail: cmateer@uvic.ca).

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.