Health & Medicine Mind & Brain

Psychological study teaching people to experience and recognize joy has been adapted for COVID-19

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU has adapted their study on a psychological condition known as anhedonia to reflect new restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Researchers at SMU and UCLA have been involved in a five-year study of a treatment for anhedonia – the inability to find pleasure in any aspect of life – since 2019. 
Psychology professors Alicia Meuret and Thomas Ritz at SMU and Michelle G. Craske at UCLA are studying the effectiveness of a type of cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at teaching people to seek out and recognize the positive aspects of life – increasing their sensitivity to reward. They will compare their results with a more traditional approach of treating the negative affect side of their problems.
But because millions of Americans have been asked to stay at home to keep from possibly spreading the COVID-19 virus, researchers have made some adjustments to how they are doing the study. 
For instance, instead of encouraging study participants to meet with friends in-person to increase feelings of joy and connectedness, the recommendation has been modified to arranging meetings online. Participants are also being given skills they can use to cope more effectively with COVID-19 worries about health and future, as well as how to generate feelings of gratitude and how to take other people’s viewpoint in account when thinking. And all sessions between participants and therapists are being done via telehealth instead of in person, because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Researchers are still recruiting Dallas and Los Angeles residents to participate in the study. More information about the study is available here.
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