Jonathan Shedler is well kown for his work on 'The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.' He describes the nature of psychodynamic psychotherapy and the long awaited and important findings about the ongoing benefits.
Benefits are linked to the development of inner capacities and resources. Psychodynamic psychotherapy not only seeks to relieve distressing and unhelpful symptoms, but also works to develop and strengthen inner resources and capacities to improve the overall quality of life.
The inner psychological resources that are fostered differ from person to person, depending on individual circumstances. They include:
- Increasing self esteem
- Developing the ability to have more satisfying relationships
- Increasing confidence in personal abilities
- Increasing understanding of self and others
- Recognition and toleration of a wider range of emotions
- Gradually becoming more able to face issues and difficulties
- Benefits that endure and increase with time
Another significant benefit repeatedly emerged in the studies Shedler looked at. He found "...the benefits of psychodynamic therapy not only endure but increase with time..." whereas in other non psychodynamic therapies the benefits deteriorated over time.
Each meta analysis Shedler examined demonstrated the same enduring benefits. The contributing studies covered a wide range of conditions including depression, anxiety, personality disorders, somatic disorders and other complex mental disorders.http://www.psychsystems.net/shedler.html
There are now outcomes available from two studies that followed up patients with borderline personality disorders 5 years after the completion of psychodynamic psychotherapy. These studies demonstrate very significant enduring benefits that no other treatment has previously shown.
Bateman, A., & Fonagy, P., (2008) 8-year follow-up of patients treated for borderline personality disorder: Mentalization-based treatment versus treatment as usual. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Fonagy
What is the work of psychodynamic psychotherapy that makes it different from other therapies?
- Focusing on recognizing and expressing feelings
- Recognizing how we try to avoid thoughts and feelings that are distressing
- Identifying recurring themes and patterns
- Talking about past experience and how it might impact currently
- Exploring how we relate to others
- Looking at themes that arise in therapeutic relationship may reveal useful information
- Encouraging free expression and exploration of whatever comes to mind
It is unfortunate that until very recently there has been little research about the efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. This is in contrast to the extensive research available about the outcomes of other therapies, especially cognitive therapies. This article describes key points about psychodynamic psychotherapy. It outlines goals that target the relief of symptoms and goals that foster underlying structural change. Finally, it points to the growing evidence that the benefits of psychodynamic therapy endure and increase over time.