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Self-Administered Optimism Training: Mechanisms of Change in a Minimally Supervised Psychoeducational Intervention

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Pessimistic explanatory style is a robust predictor of future depressive symptoms. There were 112 college students with a pessimistic explanatory style identified from a larger screening sample. Participants were randomly assigned to Self-Administered Optimism Training or a no-treatment control group. Participants assigned to SOT received 10 minutes of instruction regarding self-monitoring of how they assigned causes to events in their lives and "brainstorming" alternate causes, and then sent off to record daily diaries that captured this information every day for 28 days. The SOT participants demonstrated significant drops in pessimism in three separate but related assessments. Further, findings indicated a significant correlation between cognitive change and depression symptom change for the SOT group but not the control group. Although preliminary in nature, findings from the current study demonstrate the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of an inexpensive, prophylactic treatment for depression that utilizes a minimum of therapist contact.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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