Culturally Responsive CBT for Psychological and Physical Symptoms in Pakistani Youth: Role of Religious and Cultural Attunement

Tania Nadeem, Nargis Asad, Sahar Nadeem Hamid, Pinar Farooq, Fauzia Mahr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used widely throughout the world in diverse populations for successful treatment of a wide range of psychiatric and comorbid conditions. Over the years clinicians have been making efforts to culturally adapt CBT to various groups. This paper discusses the assessment and treatment of a young female from Pakistan with depression and anxiety with comorbid headache. After ruling out all organic causes, the treatment continued over 20 sessions with the initial phase consisting of introduction to CBT, risk assessment, and identification of treatment goals. Following this, the patient was helped in identifying automatic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Finally, tools such as thought substitutions, reappraisals, and positive diversions were used effectively to decrease automatic negative thoughts. A focus on the patient's religio-cultural identity was maintained throughout. Understanding of contextual factors like religio-cultural values and family dynamics helped to bring about favorable therapy outcomes. A case conceptualization that cohesively addressed factors relating to ethnicity, class, and gender yielded a positive result in our case. Involvement of the family and psychoeducation regarding neurobiological causes also proved to be helpful. Such an approach can facilitate a culturally responsive application of CBT in Pakistani youth experiencing comorbid medical and psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • adolescent psychotherapy
  • case conceptualization
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • cross-cultural adaptation of psychotherapy
  • cross-cultural variation
  • psychiatric and medical comorbidity


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