Transdiagnostic Approaches to Mental Health Problems

“Distress and suffering are an existential cornerstone of the human condition, yet how we reflect upon and describe the extremes of our mental duress has varied enormously across history,” states authors of a PubMed Central article. They continue: “For more than 100 years, certainly in the West, the predominant means of conceptualizing mental health struggles has been to categorize them… according to hypothetical distinctions between different sets of signs and symptoms…[thus exerting] a profound influence over the ways in which we understand, assess and manage mental ill health.” 

A nascent, yet fast-developing “transdiagnostic” approach to understanding mental health difficulties cuts across traditional diagnostic boundaries or even eliminates them altogether. A “cross-diagnosis” removes distinctions of how mental disorders are classified and opens up new ways of classifying and conceptualizing mental health challenges. It allows for thinking differently about the onset, maintenance, clinical treatment and recovery from disabling forms of mental distress. “Diagnosing across” disorders can be particularly useful in helping families adjust daily health behaviors, social networks and education/work routines. 

CFI has been at the forefront of developing novel transdiagnostic therapies for emotional and behavior disorders for children and families, including Dr. Weissman’s work at Harvard on the development, training, and evaluation of the Modular Approach to Therapy for Children with Aniety, Depression, Trauma, and/or Conduct Problems (MATCH-ADTC, Chorpita & Weisz, 2009), and his new Compassion-Focused Parent Therapy and Worry Monster Book Series, both in development.