Feasibility of Present-Centered Therapy for Prolonged Grief Disorder : Results of a Pilot Study

Present-centered therapy (PCT) was originally developed as a strong comparator for the non-specific effects of psychotherapy in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. PCT qualifies as a not strictly supportive treatment as it is structured and homework is assigned between sessions. It does not focus on cognitive restructuring or exposure. A growing body of literature supports its beneficial effects. For example, it demonstrated only slightly inferior effect sizes and lower dropout rates compared to that of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy in several trials with patients suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.


The current study is the first to evaluate the feasibility and the treatment effects of PCT in adults with prolonged grief disorder (PGD). Meta-analyses on psychotherapy for PGD have yielded moderate effect sizes. N = 20 individuals suffering from PGD were treated with PCT by novice therapists as part of a preparation phase for an upcoming RCT in an outpatient setting. Treatment consisted of 20–24 sessions á 50 min. All outcomes were assessed before treatment, at post-treatment, and at the 3-month follow-up. The primary outcome, PGD symptom severity, was assessed using the Interview for Prolonged Grief-13. Secondary outcomes were self-reported PGD severity, depression, general psychological distress, and somatic symptom severity.


Furthermore, therapists evaluated their experiences with their first PCT patient and the treatment manual. In intent-to-treat analyses of all patients we found a significant decrease in interview-based PGD symptom severity at post-treatment (d = 1.26). Decreases were maintained up to the 3-month follow-up assessment (d = 1.25). There were also significant decreases in self-reported PGD symptoms, depression, and general psychological distress. No changes were observed for somatic symptoms. The completion rate was 85%. Therapists deemed PCT to be a learnable treatment program that can be adapted to the patient's individual needs. The preliminary results of PCT as a treatment for PGD demonstrate large effects and indicate good feasibility in outpatient settings. The treatment effects were larger than those reported in meta-analyses. Thus, PCT is a promising treatment for PGD. Possible future research directions are discussed.

Anna Vogel, Hannah Comtesse, Agnes Nocon, Anette Kersting, Winfried Rief, Regina Steil and Rita Rosner | 2021
In: Frontiers in Psychiatry ; ISSN: 1664-0640 | 12 | april | 534664
Adults, Effectiveness, Interventions, Meta Analysis, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Present Centered Therapy, Prolonged Grief Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Randomized Clinical Trial, Treatment