Is There Empirical Evidence That Supports the Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?


The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy is supported by empirical evidence. Patients have reported residual therapeutic gains following treatment.

Is there empirical evidence that supports the efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy?

In the next 5 minutes, Dr Michael Blumenfield will discuss an article published in American Psychologist1 on this topic–an article that he has nominated as his choice for Top Paper of the Year.

Dr Blumenfield is president elect of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychiatry and Sidney E. Frank Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at New York Medical College; he is also a past speaker of the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association. He has a private practice in Los Angleles and he writes a blog,, as well as periodically contributing to the Psychiatric TimesCouch in Crisis” blog.

1. Shedler J. The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. American Psychologist. Feb-March 2010.

Is There Empirical Evidence That Supports the Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

Dr Shedler's article begins as follows: "Empirical evidence supports the efficacy of psychodynamic therapy. Effect sizes for psychodynamic therapy are as large as those reported for other therapies that have been actively promoted as 'empirically supported' and 'evidence based.' In addition, patients who receive psychodynamic therapy maintain therapeutic gains and appear to continue to improve after treatment ends. Finally, nonpsychodynamic therapies may be effective in part because the more skilled practitioners utilize techniques that have long been central to psychodynamic theory and practice. The perception that psychodynamic approaches lack empirical support does not accord with available scientific evidence and may reflect selective dissemination of research findings." For a pdf of the full article, please click here.

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