How effective is psychodynamic psychotherapy?
Jonathan Schedler Ph.D. conducted a meta-analysis looking at how psychodynamic psychotherapy compared with other forms of treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Psychodynamic psychotherapy proved significantly more effective than CBT (and medication) and showed that the benefits of psychodynamic therapy continued to grow when followed up at one and five year intervals.
A point of particular interest was the approach taken by the researchers to define the comparison groups. Historically, one of the challenges encountered by researchers who are comparing different psychotherapy modalities is how to maintain consistency when different styles of therapy are applied in practice. For example, during CBT the therapist will routinely challenge the thoughts and beliefs held by a client; however, one CBT therapist might inquire in a detached, clinical manner whilst another might explore the client’s beliefs in a warmer, more empathic style. Both these approaches would adhere to the CBT framework because it is the challenging of the beliefs that is of importance. However, the client will have quite a different therapeutic experience with each clinician, which many therapists argue has significant implications to the treatment outcome. Thus, although a clinician might describe themselves as a psychodynamic psychotherapist or a CBT therapist, their own personal styles mean that no two therapists are the same.
Shedler looked at studies that incorporated a method of analysis that looks beyond the brand name of the treatment and examines the subtle clinical variables observed during the therapy. In other words, the researchers focused more on therapeutic technique and less on the modality that the therapists believed there were using. The findings showed that not only was psychodynamic psychotherapy significantly more effective than non-psychodynamic approaches, but surprisingly – and perhaps somewhat controversially – the more skilled CBT therapists were utilising techniques that are not common CBT practice but which are central to psychodynamic psychotherapy. This suggests that non-psychodynamic approaches to treatment such as CBT may be effective in part because they incorporate psychodynamic techniques in application.
You can download the complete article from here http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-65-2-98.pdf