Brief interventions focused on emotion processing are needed to support young people (YP) in inpatient treatment programmes to manage emotions. Cognitive Remediation and Emotion Skills Training (CREST) has been found beneficial in adult anorexia nervosa (AN) groups. An initial case series found that CREST is a feasible intervention for YP with AN. Further age-appropriate adaptations were needed to improve YP’s engagement. Following qualitative feedback on the original CREST manual, a second case series was conducted in an inpatient unit with age-appropriate adaptations to evaluate its feasibility in a YP inpatient setting.
A mixed-methods methodology was used to evaluate the intervention. A total of 30 YP were asked to write a feedback letter about their experience of the group and to complete the Emotion Skills Scale (ESS), an ad hoc 12-item self-report Likert scale assessing emotional functioning. The ESS was also completed by a member of the multidisciplinary team for an external assessment.
Quantitative results showed no statistically significant changes in YP’s emotional functioning, while qualitative results showed that YP found it helpful to learn about emotion processes, acknowledging their need to be supported to express them and understand the link with AN symptoms. Four high-order themes were identified: Helpfulness of CREST Group for Young People (CREST-GYP), Perception of contents, Challenges of group therapy, Suggestions for improvement.
Pilot findings suggest that CREST-GYP is an acceptable intervention for YP with AN. Clinical and research studies are needed to clarify whether CREST-GYP can produce more beneficial treatment results than treatment as usual.