Experiences of a transdiagnostic group, the Take Control Course, for clients with common mental health problems: a qualitative study

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Despite the promising effectiveness findings for transdiagnostic groups, studies have not explored clients' experiences. There is a risk that clients could perceive that the content of transdiagnostic groups is not sufficiently tailored to their specific problems. Our aims were to examine whether a brief transdiagnostic group, the Take Control Course (TCC), was acceptable to participants and to explore participants' perceptions of psychological change.

Qualitative data were collected via 12 semistructured, in‐depth interviews. Data collection and thematic analysis were concurrent and iterative.

Three superordinate themes were identified: “Style and format,” “Control and flexibility,” and “Change.” The flexible group format was appreciated, as participants felt able to engage at their own pace and adapt relevant aspects. Greater clarity regarding what was within participants' control reduced distress and enabled effective pursuit of valued goals. Participants described significant (predominantly gradual) changes, including substantial improvements within relationships.

The transdiagnostic format did not prevent participants experiencing the TCC as individually relevant. The flexibility and consistent theoretical framework seemed to contribute to this. The results indicated that greater consideration of control and mindfulness allowed greater cognitive flexibility, an ability to reprioritize and let go of unhelpful habits, which better enabled participants to meet their goals. Implications for group therapy include (a) clearly explaining the format of such groups to clients and (b) providing flexibility in the way the group is delivered where possible. Additional qualitative studies of transdiagnostic groups are required to establish if themes generalize to other transdiagnostic groups.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-744
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Issue number5
Early online date26 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018