Cognitive mechanisms involved in therapeutic change for depression Reducing abstraction and increasing concreteness eDwarD r. watkins
An extensive literature has provided support for the hypothesis that the way that individuals construe or represent personally relevant events has implications for changing emotions. Indeed, this hypothesis underlies a significant tranche of cognition-emotion theory as well as therapeutic approaches, most notably cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT e.g., Beck, Rush, Shaw and Emery, 1979). This chapter focuses on programmatic research into one aspect of cognitive processing-the specificity and concreteness of mental representations-and its impact on emotions, with particular emphasis on depression. The main thesis of the chapter is that representation of negative emotional events in a more concrete and specific way tends to result in less emotional reactivity and quicker recovery from upsetting events, but that depressed individuals instead tend to process such events in a more abstract and general way, contributing to their emotional vulnerability.