CBT for Co-Occurring Emotional Disorders

Unified Protocol for Co-Occurring Emotional Disorders | S.E.T. Therapy Programs at CNS Integrated Behavioral Health & Medicine


Program Description

The Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders1 (UP) is a transdiagnostic, emotion-focused cognitive-behavioral treatment developed to be applicable across the spectrum of emotional and anxiety disorders. Disorders appropriate for the application of the UP and that meet criteria in the DSM-IV include (Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Depression). Emotional Disorders are characterized by a propensity to experience emotions that seem to take over an individual’s life. Even though individual diagnoses exist, more often than not, individuals suffer from more than one disorder at the same time (referred to as comorbidity).

“Unified” refers to a set of common therapeutic procedures that are effective with a whole class of disorders. “Transdiagnostic” is a term used to describe programs that are effective across the entire spectrum of any given class of disorders. For example, someone seeks treatment for their anxiety (which might include difficulty with panic disorder, social phobia, and OCD). With this understanding, the UP has been designed to directly address the aversive emotional experiences that are at the core of all these disorders.

The UP consists of 4 core modules: increasing emotional awareness and understanding the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; facilitating flexibility in assessing situations without emotional bias; identifying and preventing behavioral and emotional avoidance; and facing fears and emotions with graduated exposure. In summary, the purpose of this treatment program is to teach individuals how to fully experience, accept, and tolerate the full range of emotions; and to learn how to respond to emotional experiences more adaptively.

Supported by Research

Anxiety and mood disorders (also known as emotional disorders) affect millions of Americans in a given year. In fact, about 29% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime, and about 21% will experience a mood disorder.2

This treatment was developed at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD) in Boston, MA.  The UP has been used to treat many patients, with over 70% of patients experiencing significant improvement in their symptoms and a return to a more functional way of life.

For more information and resources about CBT for Co-Occurring Emotional Disorders, please refer to: http://bostonanxietytreatment.com/the-unified-protocol/



  1. Barlow, D.H., Farchione, T.J., Fairholme, C.P., Ellard, K.K., Boisseau, C.L., Allen, L.B. & Ehrenreich-May, J. (2011). The unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: client workbook. New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Kessler, R.C., Berglund, P., & Demler, O., Jin, R., & Walters, E.E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 593-602.