An Emotion Regulation Treatment for Young People With Complex Substance Use and Mental Health Issues: A Case-Series Analysis [2018]


• Young people seeking treatment for AoD issues present with complex patterns of mental health and substance use comorbidity.

• Treatments which target emotion regulation have the potential to address the complex needs of this cohort.

• An emotion regulation intervention was piloted with a cohort of young adults in a residential rehabilitation setting.

• The intervention was perceived as useful and acceptable by young people.

• Decreases in emotion dysregulation and psychological distress postintervention were found.

Individuals accessing treatment within the youth alcohol and other drug (AoD) sector represent a highly vulnerable population who present with complex patterns of substance use and mental health comorbidity. Current treatments often fail to address this complexity. Emotion regulation (ER) has been identified as a promising transdiagnostic treatment target for this population of young people. The current study aimed to investigate the acceptability and feasibility of an adjunct ER intervention, ERIC (Emotion Regulation and Impulse Control) in young people receiving AoD treatment at a residential rehabilitation service. A mixed methods case series design was utilized. Ten participants aged between 16–20 years old completed 4–6 sessions of ERIC as an adjunct to their existing residential treatment. Participants undertook a post intervention feedback session and completed a number of self-report measures of ER, depression and anxiety at baseline and 2 weeks after receiving ERIC. Qualitative feedback from young people following the delivery of ERIC was positive, and suggested that ERIC was a viable and useful intervention. Participants reported that the components of ERIC, which involved metaphors and experiential exercises, were particularly beneficial and memorable. Pre-post measures indicated that 60% of the young people had both reliable and clinically significant reductions in overall emotion dysregulation, while reliable and clinically significant reductions in depression and anxiety were observed in 50% and 60% of participants respectively. Results support the acceptability of ERIC for this cohort of young people with complex substance use and mental health needs. Furthermore, these findings support the viability of delivering flexible and adjunctive ER treatments to young people seeking AoD treatment.

Elise Sloan, Kate Hall, Angela Simpson, George J. Youssef, Richard Moulding, Helen Mildred, Petra K. Staiger
Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, Volume 25, Issue 3, August 2018