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A Meta-Analysis of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Outcomes

Evaluating the Effects of Research-Specific Procedures

Abstract

The aim of this research was to examine the extent to which the use of research-specific procedures in psychodynamic psychotherapy impacts upon treatment effectiveness and which variables moderate this potential relationship. Effects of audio/video recording of sessions, use of treatment manuals, and checks of treatment fidelity were examined. A meta-analysis was conducted on randomized controlled trials of psychodynamic psychotherapy. Forty-six independent treatment samples totaling 1615 patients were included. The magnitude of change between pretreatment and posttreatment aggregated across all studies (45 treatment samples) for overall outcome was large (d-bar = 1.01), and further improvement was observed between posttreatment and an average 12.8-month follow-up (d-bar = 0.18). Subgroup analyses comparing studies that used research-specific procedures and those that did not revealed that for posttreatment data no differences in treatment effects were found. However, the use of treatment manuals and fidelity checks were significantly associated with improvement between the end of treatment and follow-up assessment. Within the limitations of analyses, this data offered preliminary evidence that use of research-specific procedures does not contribute in a negative manner to posttreatment outcomes in psychodynamic psychotherapy, and their use contributes to positive differences that emerge with time. These findings, although observational in nature, make a case for reconsidering how dimensions of clinical utility and experimental control may be integrated in psychody- namic psychotherapy to enable further elucidation of principles that evidently work.

Keywords: psychodynamic, psychotherapy, meta-analysis, research, moderator

Supplemental materials: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0029564.supp

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Town, J. M., Abbass, A., Driessen, E., Diener, M. J., Leichsenring, F., & Rabung, S. (2012). A meta-analysis of psychodynamic psychotherapy outcomes: Evaluating the effects of research-specific procedures. Psychotherapy, 49, 276-290. doi: 10.1037/a0029564

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