Sunday, February 14, 2010


I just thought it would be a good idea to post some of the recent research on the effectiveness of psychoanalytical therapy. The dates are when the stories hit my Google Reader.

First, an article defining Psychotherapy:

What Is Psychotherapy? What Are The Benefits Of Psychotherapy?
Jul 4, 2009
Psychotherapy is commonly used for psychological problems that have had a number of years to accumulate. It only works if a trusting relationship can be built up between the client and the psychotherapist (in psychology "client" can mean "patient"). Treatment can continue for several months, and even years. Psychotherapy may be practiced on a one-to-one basis, or in pairs, and even in groups. Generally, sessions occur about once a week and last one hour.

Some of the types of psychotherapy are: Behavior therapy; Cognitive therapy; Family therapy; Interpersonal therapy; Group therapy; and Psychodynamic therapy. If you take a college class (or two) on counselling theories, you probably will use Gerald Corey's texts, which also covers: Adlerian; Existential; Person-centered; Gestalt; Reality; Feminist; and Post-modern. There is some overlap in the two lists and some of the categories, but I like Corey's stuff because he's good at making the approaches easier to understand. For the curious, I share a study aid I made for myself, using his work: Counseling Theories Comparison Spreadsheet.

Now some research articles. I'll keep the number down for you and I'll send you to professional summaries of the research, so you don't have to worry about reading the highly academic stuff. Don't worry, the articles have the actual research publications citated. It would be nice to have direct links, but there's that subscription thing to consider.

According To New Study, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Brings Lasting Benefits
Jan 26, 2010
The eight meta-analyses, representing the best available scientific evidence on psychodynamic therapy, all showed substantial treatment benefits, according to Shedler. Effect sizes were impressive even for personality disorders - deeply ingrained maladaptive traits that are notoriously difficult to treat, he said. "The consistent trend toward larger effect sizes at follow-up suggests that psychodynamic psychotherapy sets in motion psychological processes that lead to ongoing change, even after therapy has ended," Shedler said. "In contrast, the benefits of other 'empirically supported' therapies tend to diminish over time for the most common conditions, like depression and generalized anxiety."

Can Therapy Really Change Your Brain?
Nov 25, 2009
In the “Clinician’s Digest” section of the November/December 2009 issue of Psychotherapy Networker, Garry Cooper discusses a study led by psychiatrist Jakob Koch of Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany suggesting that “effective psychotherapy with depressed clients is associated with changes at the brain’s cellular level,” increasing the production of a key brain protein that assists in creating neural pathways. In this study they used Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) which looks through the lens of both cognitive and interpersonal issues. It would be interesting to know how other theoretical orientations would fare.

Psychodynamic Therapy vs CBT Smackdown for Anxiety
Aug 10, 2009
This study demonstrates that psychodynamic psychotherapy is an effective alternative for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, when compared to the more commonly-used CBT. The researchers encourage more studies like this one, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a timely reminder of the value of the different types of psychotherapies available, not just the kind that might be in vogue at the moment.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Gets Some Research Respect
Oct 1, 2008
.... This meta-analysis shows that, contrary to many clinicians’ opinions, psychodynamic psychotherapy can be an effective modality, especially in cases of chronic depression or anxiety, or personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder. It cannot say whether it’s better than other long-term psychotherapies (virtually all psychotherapy techniques and approaches can be used for years, although many are focused on short-term symptom relief and change). And the analysis says nothing to the placebo effect of just being with another human being for a year or more.


Anonymous said...

Nice post! Also because it doesn't support the hype of 'only CBT is an empirical supported therapy'. Simply because that isn't true. Just like there is a lot of research that shows that experiential therapy is effective, or better: as effective as CBT, sometimes more effective and sometimes less.
It brings us to the only right question: Don't force every client to get CBT, but give the client the therapy that fits him most. And sometimes that's psychodynamic therapy, sometimes that's experiential therapy and sometimes that's CBT.

Steven said...

You have a nice blog.I stumbled upon an eBook called “Change Therapy” and thought it would be a great thing to offer free for your followers. Here’s the link. I was told you could download it and post on your site.

Cosmic Siren said...

Thank you, both of you, for your comments.

Steven, I plan to read the eBook this week and post about it soon. I have already forwarded it to a psychologist who has had his own practice for decades and he thought it was great. Thank you for the link.