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The third wave of cognitive behavioural therapies: what is new and what is effective?

Kahl, Kai G.a; Winter, Lottaa; Schweiger, Ulrichb

doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328358e531
CLINICAL THERAPEUTICS: Edited by Dieter Naber and Harold Pincus

Purpose of review The purpose of this study was to shortly characterize the evolving psychotherapeutic methods summarized as ‘third wave psychotherapies’ and to review recent research on the therapeutic impact of these methods.

Recent findings ‘Third wave psychotherapies’ comprise a heterogeneous group of treatments, including acceptance and commitment treatment, behavioural activation, cognitive behavioural analysis system of psychotherapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, metacognitive therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and schema therapy. Several randomized controlled trials, longitudinal case series and pilot studies have been performed during the past 3–5 years, showing the efficacy and effectiveness of ‘third wave psychotherapies’.

Summary The third wave of behavioural psychotherapies is an important arena of modern psychotherapy. It has added considerably to the spectrum of empirically supported treatments for mental disorders and influenced research on psychotherapy. The presented methods open up treatment possibilities for patient groups such as borderline personality disorder, chronic depression or generalized anxiety disorder that had received only little specific attention in the past. The available evidence now allows considering all third wave treatments as empirically supported.

aDepartment of Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hannover Medical School, Hannover

bDepartment of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany

Correspondence to Kai G. Kahl, Department of Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany. Tel: +49 511 532 2495; fax: +49 511 532 8573; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.