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Does psychotherapy work? What kind of psychotherapy works best? These and similar questions have been among the most vigorously debated of our time, but solid information to answer them has not been readily obtainable. This book reports the outcome of a study designed to give rigorous answers to some real-life questions about the effectiveness of analytically oriented psychotherapy or behavior therapy as compared to the “spontaneous” improvement that might be observed in patients kept on a waiting list.
The methods and effects of the two kinds of therapy are compared, and the nature of the patients’ responses is investigated not only during therapy but for a considerable period of follow-up. The patients, drawn from a regular outpatient population in the clinic of a university hospital, represent a population for whom some kind of short-term psychotherapy would usually be deemed appropriate. And the participation in this study of highly experienced therapists makes possible a fair comparison between the two modes of treatment.
From a wealth of information, the authors have drawn a number of balanced conclusions, many of them quite optimistic about the utility of psychiatric therapy. Behavior therapy is shown to have broad usefulness in treating the problems of a typical outpatient population, although it is not found to be overwhelmingly more effective than analytically oriented psychotherapy.
This lucid study is remarkable in a number of ways. The questions it asks are formulated with care both to have practical significance and yet to be answered with scientific methods. The methods were chosen to provide as much information as possible and to permit rigorous conclusions. The patients, including those on the waiting list, were followed conscientiously and with respect for their rights and needs.