Vitosha Hall - Marinela

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe! What CBT case conceptualization should be used when helping patients suffering from multiple emotional problems?

Maria do Céu Salvador, Gerhard Anderson, Steven Hollon, Sandra Mulkens, Magnus Blondahl Sighvatsson Speaker

Debate organizer:

Professor Jon Friðrik Sigurðsson, Reykjavik University and University of Iceland, Iceland

Background information

Disorders specific CBT; Transdiagnostic CBT; Case conceptualization; Comorbidity; Anxiety; Depression; Eating Disorders; Medically Unexplained symptoms.


1) Magnus Blondahl Sighvatsson, University of Iceland and Reykjavik University, Iceland. Magnus is a PhD student doing research on mechanism of change in transdiagnostic CBT. He is working under the supervision of Professors Paul M. Salkovskis and Jon Fridrik Sigurdsson.

2) Sigrun Olafsdottir, Reykjavik University, Iceland. Sigrun is a PhD student doing research on medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) from a CBT perspective. She is working under the supervision of Professors Paul M. Salkovskis and Jon Fridrik Sigurdsson.

3) Professor Gerhard Anderson, Linköping University and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
4) Professor Steven Hollon, Vanderbilt University, USA. Professor Hollon is world-renowned researcher and CBT specialist and has been leading figure in studying major depressive disorder for decades.

5) Sandra Mulkens, Maastricht University, The Netherlands. Dr. Mulkens is Assistant professor at Maastricht University where she studies eating disorders, social anxiety disorder, body dysmorphic disorder and more.

Roundtable chair:

Maria do Céu Salvador, Coimbra University, Portugal. Professor do Céu Salvador is a CBT specialist studying social anxiety disorder for both adolescence and adults and third generation therapies.


Basic psychological processes and neuroscience.


Comorbidity of emotional problems is high, yet according to research treatment of choice for prevalent emotional problems (e.g., depression, anxiety disorders or eating disorders) are disorder specific CBT protocols. This is despite that research shows that almost all emotional problems are maintained be similar processes, i.e., negative and/or threat-based meaning of common experiences and safety seeking behaviors. This causes substantial problems for CBT therapists (experienced or not) when treating people who suffer from multiple emotional problems. Due to reasons mentioned above (and more), a treatment based on similar processes in CBT has been developed and studied, i.e., transdiagnostic CBT and in this debate researchers will discuss what case conceptualization (disorder specific vs. transdiagnostic) should be used according to research, when the patient under consideration is suffering from multiple mental health problems. Discussants are researchers with divergent experiences. The first one is doing research on mechanism of change in transdiangostic CBT. The second is studying CBT for people suffering from all kinds of ailments but without any specific diagnosis (i.e. medically unexplained symptoms). The third is a leading expert on studying disorder specific CBT for social anxiety disorder but in recent years has been focusing more on evidenced based processes in CBT. The fourth is a world leading expert in treating major depressive disorder, a prevalent problem with high comorbidity. The fifth is a CBT specialist, treating eating disorder where patients are known to “migrate” between eating disorder diagnoses that cause uncertainty on what interventions to use for each patient.