UP/The Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders

Application areas: Emotional disorders, specifically, all anxiety and unipolar depressive disorders, as well as disorders with strong emotional components (e.g. eating disorders, BPD).

Developed by: David H. Barlow, Todd J. Farchione, Shannon Sauer-Zavala et al., 2018 (2ND Edition)

The UP is a form of CBT that addresses the overlap in symptoms across emotional disorders (i.e. the emotional link between depression and anxiety). 

The goal is to help patients respond differently when they experience uncomfortable emotions, thereby reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression (which often occur together).

The UP involves five core skills that target key aspects of problematic emotional processing: 

  • Mindful emotion awareness
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Modifying action tendencies
  • Awareness and tolerance of physical sensations
  • Emotion exposure.

The UP is goal-orientated, present-focused and brief.

It places emphasis on the awareness, function and severity of emotion. For example, the UP aims to answer questions such as: “Why do we have emotions?” and “How do emotions play a role in emotional difficulties?”

The UP also deviates from protocols that focus on addressing specific symptoms associated with a given disorder (e.g. panic disorder) and rather addresses the emotional difficulties found across disorders, such as mindful deficits and emotion avoidance. 

The UP therefore equips the clinician to simultaneously address co-occurring conditions.

The UP has gathered strong empirical support for its use with a range of emotional disorders. Overall findings suggest that the transdiagnostic approach is just as good at addressing the primary disorder as the targeted CBT protocol designed specifically for a condition.

Furthermore, due to the UP’s flexibility in treating comorbidity, it can be applied successfully within a group setting, making UP more accessible to those seeking treatment. 

The contact person for the UP in South Africa is Tyrone Edgar: tyrone.edgar@cbtrsa.com
Premier Health Centre, 13 Mackay Avenue, Blairgowrie 2194, Gauteng, South Africa
010 591 2223 OR 010 594 5540 

Resource: unifiedprotocol.com

Beth Cooper Howell Proof reader/copy editor

Contributions by
Prof David Edwards
Dr Linda Blokland
Matthew Watkin
Edgar Tyrone
Bertus Swanepoel
Dr Shane Pienaar-Du Bruyn