Anxiety treatment leads to research centre

Anxiety, OCD, BergensmethodBjarne Hansen and Gerd Kvale have reached the Time Magazine top 50 health personnel in the world. Photo: Paul S. Amundsen

Successful anxiety treatment leads to a research centre

The so-called «Bergen 4 day treatment», which deals with anxiety and compulsive disorders in just four days, now receives NOK 111 million to create its own research centre.


The method has attracted international attention and has two researchers from Bergen as founders. Gerd Kvale and Bjarne Hansen now receive a large grant from Norwegian sources to establish the world’s first research centre of its kind, reports NRK.

The treatment regards treating anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with intense training in just four days and is now being taught to several centres throughout the world. Both Sweden and Iceland have adopted the method, and in the USA, such treatment is now underway

The centre will be established in Bergen and will both offer «four days treatment» and research the reason why the method works so well.

– We will look at what makes the patient experience a positive change. But we will also try to find out why some patients experience no effect from the treatment, says Kvale.

The establishment has been made possible by allocating a total of NOK 111 million to the project by the Bergen Research Foundation, the Kavlifondet, Haukeland University Hospital and the University of Bergen.

The two researchers recently joined Time Magazine‘s prestigious list of the top 50 persons in the world who do the most to improve the world’s health services.

About the treatment (Time Magazine)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can take months of therapy to treat. But Kvale and Hansen, who are clinical psychologists at Haukeland University Hospital in Norway, have shown they can treat it in just four days.

Frustrated by the traditional model of ­therapy—­meeting with patients just once or twice a week, with days between sessions to stall progress or give people the chance to drop out—Kvale and Hansen developed a program in which therapists help their patients learn how to deal with anxiety through marathon sessions of exposure therapy.

– Patients say it’s hard work and one of the most challenging weeks of their life.  But the change that they experience through these four days is sort of magic and life-­changing, Kvale says.

So far, about 1,200 people with OCD have gone through the intensive regimen; approximately 70% recover completely and remain in remission four years later, according to a study published in August in the journal Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. And very few of them quit.

Kvale and Hansen’s pioneering model of concentrated ­therapy—which the researchers are now testing for panic disorders and social ­anxiety—has spread to Iceland and Sweden and will soon come stateside to a private clinic in Houston.


© NTB scanpix / Time Magazine / #Norway Today