Assessing and treating paranoid personality disorder with cat
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“Assessing and treating paranoid personality disorder with CAT”. Stephen Kellett BIGSPD Conference Manchester 2012. PPD: DSM-IV (APA, 2000) DEFINITION. suspects (without sufficient basis) that others are exploiting, harming or deceiving them pre-occupied with trustworthiness

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Assessing and treating paranoid personality disorder with cat

“Assessing and treating paranoid personality disorder with CAT”

Stephen Kellett

BIGSPD Conference Manchester 2012

Ppd dsm iv apa 2000 definition


  • suspects (without sufficient basis) that others are exploiting, harming or deceiving them

  • pre-occupied with trustworthiness

  • inability to confide

  • reads demeaning/threatening meanings into events

  • grudges

  • perceives attacks on character

  • jealous

Existing ppd outcome evidence

Existing PPD outcome evidence

2 qualitative case studies (Williams, 1989; Dimaggio, Cantania, Salvatore, Carcione & Nicolo, 2006).

2 quantitative case studies (Nicolo, Centenero, Nobile & Porcari, 2003; Carvalho, Faustino, Nascimento & Sales, 2008)

Present study

Present Study

  • Assessment, case description, treatment and long-term outcome of client presenting with PPD

  • Rich case record (Elliott 2002) in the SCED

    (1) traditional outcomes measures

    (2) personal questionnaire daily

    (3) perceptions of therapy and therapist

    (4) post therapy interview

    (5) well described case

The case

The Case

  • Carl (pseudonym, aged 37, signed off work)

  • Referred by Consultant Psychiatrist opinion re. thought disorder

  • Screened and placed on waiting list

  • Assessed via SCID-II (Spitzer et al, 1997)

The case cont

The Case cont

Sced what was done and when

SCED - what was done and when

  • Traditional Outcome Measures reported at assessment, termination, and follow-up

  • Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI; Beck et al, 1994)

  • Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; Derogatis, 1993)

  • Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP-32; Berkham et al, 1994)

  • Personality Structure and Questionnaire (PSQ; Pollock et al, 2001)

Sced cont

SCED cont

Sced cont1

SCED cont

  • Perception of therapy and therapist

  • Session Impact Questionnaire (Stiles et al, 1994)

  • 5 ‘impacts’ measured after each session (understanding, problem solving, relationship, unwanted thoughts, hindering aspects)

  • Post-therapy Interview

  • Therapy change interview (Elliott, Slatick & Urman, 2001)

Structure of intervention

Structure of intervention

  • Reformulation (letter and diagram),

  • Recognition (noticing)

  • Revision (exiting)

Extracts from the reformulation letter

Extracts from the reformulation letter

“When you were growing up, the home was dominated by your father’s paranoia. As you have stated ‘you lived in his world’ which was one dominated by distrust, jealousness and suspiciousness towards, in particular, your mother. It seems from an early age that you have learnt to be always on the defensive and you were taught a consistent lesson of distrust and oppressive suspiciousness of others. Your father used you as a source to check out his paranoia and you recall being frequently and frighteningly interrogated for facts and opinions by him. In the present day you continue to interrogate and distrust any person or evidence presented before you and you may be drawn into doing this with me.”

Target Problem = over vigilance

Target Problem Procedure = “Believing that people are a direct threat to me, I feel I need to protect myself by watching people closely all the time. This watchfulness means that I notice many small incidents or behaviours all the time and then join them together to make a conspiracy theory. When this happens, I then withdraw from social situations, which reinforces my belief in the conspiracy theory and so limits my opportunities to learn that people can be trusted.”

Assessing and treating paranoid personality disorder with cat

Diagram 1: Sequential Diagrammatic Reformulation for PPD Case

obsess about it






find this frightening after a while


(though I feel complete)




start to believe thoughts

start to feel vulnerable

only way I know to feel safe

`peas in the bag`






try to see a pattern

Hard to tolerate this



try to make sense of confusion

need to make sense

feel totally exhausted

anxiety triggered

need something to tie it all together

see threat everywhere

when with people, always keep my distance


Players versus non-players





can’t ever relax



`the radar`





win / outwit/


start to play

find it hard to `connect`

this game is real

never develop `true` trust

never ever stop thinking

`ha ha; I’ve seen you`

withdraw into myself

start to see threats

Key question 1

Key question 1

  • At what stage does active therapy start to work and are there any sudden gains?

Table 1 means sds and f values for the experimental variables

Table 1; means, (SDs) and F-values for the experimental variables

* p < 0.05

** p < 0.01

What does a significant f value mean in this analysis

What does a significant F value mean in this analysis?

  • An overall change in both the intercept (i.e. start of treatment post formulation) and the slope (regression line of change)

Key question 2

Key question 2

  • Is there any clinically significant change in the traditional outcome measures?

Key question 3 are some sessions more impactful helpful than others

Key question 3; are some sessions more impactful/helpful than others?

  • Significant increase in ratings of problem solving in treatment sessions (t = -2.27, P < 0.05)

  • No difference in understanding, relationship, unwanted thoughts or hindering aspects

Key question 4

Key question 4

  • Can the client describe what changes were due to therapy and what made the difference?

  • The change interview conducted following the final follow-up session

The case for change

The case for change

  • evidence of non-trivial change in long-standing difficulties (evidenced by time series analysis of changes in the target complaint measures of suspiciousness and anxiety),

  • non trivial psychometric change (evidenced by reliable pre-post change in the traditional outcome measures),

  • the patient retrospectively attributing his reduced paranoia to the CAT conducted (evidenced by the Change Interview in terms of the statements and ratings of change) and

  • evidence of an event (narrative reformulation) – shift (reduced paranoia) sequence (evidenced by the graphing of the suspiciousness target complaint measure).

Skeptical position

Skeptical position

  • there was insufficient change in the quantitative data (evidenced by no change in some of the target complaint paranoia measures over time and lack of reliable pre-post change in the IIP-32),

  • that fidelity to the CAT model was not assessed (by use of the Competence in CAT measure for example, Bennett & Parry, 2008),

  • that the SCID-II was not re-administered following therapy and therefore the patient still may have met DSM-IV (APA, 1994) diagnostic criteria for PPD,

  • that the follow-up period was too short to truly assess long-term implications of treatment,

  • whilst trust appeared to be the change mechanism, there was not evidence of change in the trust variable in the interrupted time series analysis and

  • that the patient had replaced one fixed belief system (the game) with another, albeit slightly more functional, one (an unreflective relational model).

Thank you

Thank you

Any questions

[email protected]

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