Toward a unified treatment for emotional disorders: Update on the science and practice

Peter J Norton, Daniel J Paulus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


Mental health professionals have long been concerned with describing and proscribing a structure around the myriad variations of psychological and emotional distress that are deemed to be disordered. This has frequently been characterized as a conflict between so-called lumpers and splitters -those who advocate broad categorizations based on overarching commonalities versus those who endeavor toward a highly refined structure emphasizing unique characteristics. Many would argue that with the era of the modern Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III to DSM-5), a splitting ideology has been dominant despite re-emerging concerns that some groups of diagnoses, particularly disorders of anxiety and other emotions, may be more similar than different. As a result of such concerns, transdiagnostic or unified models of psychopathology have burgeoned. In this review, we describe the work of Barlow, Allen, and Choate (2004), whose invited paper Toward a Unified Treatment for Emotional Disorders reignited transdiagnostic perspectives of emotional disorders. We provide an update on the scientific models and evidence-based treatments that have followed in the wake of this 2004 publication, including key areas for future study in the advancement of transdiagnostic and unified treatment of emotional disorders
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-868
Number of pages15
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016

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