What Forms of Therapy are Helpful?

What Forms of Therapy are Helpful?

By  Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

A debate in the mental health professional community continues, sometimes at an intense level:  Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) the treatment of choice for many disorders?  CBT practitioners and researchers have done an excellent job for the most part of investigating and substantiating the benefits of this kind of therapy.  They can point to numerous studies as evidence,  many of them quality research projects with reliable results.

Psychodynamic therapy is more focused on an individual’s emotions, the sources of those emotions in someone’s individual life history, and working towards relief and deeper understanding of oneself in that path.  Practitioners of this form of therapy, which actually has a longer history than CBT, have tended to neglect research and collection of data about its impact.  More recently however, there is growing evidence that psychodynamic therapy is effective (http://bit.ly.KenPopeMetaAnalysisPsychodynamic).

A summary of 23 research projects, including more than 2,700 patients, has found that psychodynamic therapy is effective.  The measure of success in these studies was “target symptoms”, such as reducing depressive symptoms for depressed patients.  It should be noted that these treatment programs were “manualized”: short-term treatment in which a carefully monitored regimen was followed for each session in the therapy, so that all the patients did receive essentially the same therapy.

Practitioners of psychodynamic therapy also point out that the depth of understanding that patients develop in more ongoing therapy means that longer-term benefits are more likely.  Patients develop more insight and self-awareness that improves the quality of life in more ongoing ways, including developing coping skills and understanding that help them deal with life’s challenges as they occur going forward.  This has potentially deeper and longer-lasting benefits than CBT approaches, though CBT has been shown to be clearly effective as well.

Dr. Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310  539-2772, or dralanms@gmail.com

Copyright 2017 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.