Success of Psychoanalysis

There is increasing evidence that psychoanalysis may be an effective therapy. A landmark review by Shedler (2010) included a number of randomised control trials* where psychodynamic therapies proved as effective as other forms of therapy. Midgley and Kennedy (2011) conducted another review, this time of studies relating to children and young adults and again found strong evidence of the value of psychodynamic therapies.

In fact Shedler suggests that non-psychodynamic therapies may be effective in part because therapists use techniques that have long been central to psychodynamic theory and practice, such as gaining awareness of previously implicit feelings.

Shedler describes psychodynamic therapies as ‘a range of treatments based on psychoanalytic concepts and methods that involve less frequent meetings and may be considerably briefer than psychoanalysis proper. Session frequency is typically once or twice per week, and the treatment may be either time limited or open ended. The essence of psychodynamic therapy is exploring those aspects of self that are not fully known, especially as they are manifested and potentially influenced in the therapy relationship’. In his article he provides a useful description of the techniques used in the therapy.

*A randomised control trial is the gold standard of medical research where patients are randomly assigned to treatment or no treatment groups.