Psychoanalysis and empirical research have not always been on friendly terms. Recent decades, however, have seen an increase in psychoanalytically-informed research. One area where this research has expanded is in assessing the outcomes of psychodynamic or psychoanalytic therapies. (In brief, psychodynamic therapies are based upon psychoanalytic principles but may not include all the features, such as use of a couch, of traditional psychoanalysis.)
Much of the research on the outcomes of psychodynamic psychotherapy has focused upon short-term, if not explicitly time-limited treatments. In general, this research demonstrates that short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy is better than no treatment and is roughly equivalent in outcomes to other types of treatment.
Study of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (LTPP) has proven more difficult. Random assignment, the preferred technique for making strong conclusions regarding therapy efficacy, is difficult when patients are assigned to long treatments, due to patient resistance to randomization and their tendency to drop out of longer treatments that are either not working or working well enough that patients feel they’ve had enough.
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