Interventions: A Look At Cognitive Anxiety Sensitivity Treatment

Interventions can happen in so many ways…

This weekend we happened to see The Homesman. This is one of those movies that captures your interest just by reading the cast’s names. You wonder how actors who have won multiple acting awards and nominations find themselves wrapped up in a story about the rescue of three mentally ill women being transported “home” to their families.

Take a few minutes and watch the trailer.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

You learn so much from this film…and for sure every viewer brings their own life experience to this film. Behavioral health professionals will certainly see this film as a powerful example of how interventions dating back more than 100 years were planned to assist those who are suffering from mental illness, depression, anxiety, and the like.

When Meryl Streep’s character Altha Carter inquires of Tommy Lee Jones’ George Briggs, something to the affect, “Have you seen any improvement in their(the mentally ill women) behavior over the weeks that you have traveled with them?” it seemed that Altha Carter knew instinctively that their rescue and their time traveling together and being cared for was, for all intents and purposes, an intervention.

Learning of Cognitive Anxiety Sensitivity Treatment (CAST)


Interventionists are called upon by family members, friends, co-workers, employers and even the justice system to have a neutral person who is an expert in addiction and recovery intervene upon the addict and their family to bring the addiction and its harmful impacts to the surface so that recovery and healing can begin.

As such, it is imperative that we are constantly learning and staying abreast of new research and studies that are designed to create new modes of intervening.

This week we learned that researchers at Florida State University led by Professor Brad Schmidt were looking for a way to assist veterans and other groups who suffer from high anxiety and whose stress may bring on thoughts of suicide (ideation).

The researchers used Cognitive Anxiety Sensitivity Treatment (CAST) which is a 45 minute treatment consisting of videos and a true and false questionnaire.

The results of this study were published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology: Randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of a brief intervention targeting anxiety sensitivity cognitive concerns.

According to Science World Report, the researchers found:

The program works by helping to reduce racing thoughts as well as the inability to concentrate and make sure that others are not a danger to themselves as well as not an implication that something bad is about to happen.
Those who received CAST training saw their anxiety scores drop significantly more than those who just learned about healthy living. Furthermore, the decrease was similar to that seen in many therapy sessions.
Researchers believe that military members could stand to benefit, especially those who may be at an increased risk of suicide or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Looking forward…

Continuing to conduct research for ways to improve the intervention process is critical. People continue to hide their needs…they may suffer from addiction, depression, anxiety, and/or PTSD. But getting help is the most important goal. Sometimes people will be reluctant to seek help for fear that they will jeopardize their relationships both personal and on the job.

The holidays are here. Be vigilant with your loved ones; don’t overlook a cry for help. Celebrate the holidays and celebrate life. Recovery is the best gift.

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