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New Israeli research shows that people can get significant benefits from long-term, intensive psychoanalytic therapy

Over the recent years, psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapies have been criticized for lacking research proof for their efficacy. Cognitive-behavioral interventions have been extensively researched, and have become known as “evidence-based” therapies, considered to be effective in the amelioration of various symptoms. In particular, interventions such as prolonged exposure have been observed to be the most effective in reducing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, regardless of evidence-based efficacy, some treatments seem unpalatable for some patients. Cognitive-behavioral therapies have been shown to have high dropout rates, even among those patients suffering from the disorders for which the interventions have been shown to be effective. It has also been suggested that psychodynamic therapies might address crucial aspects of psychological problems and complex interpersonal trauma that these therapies do not target, such as intimate relationship problems, general life functioning, and underlying personality problems that may have developed as the result of repeated trauma.

Patients suffering from serious mental illness such as schizophrenia have been considered unsuitable for the psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapies. Now a recent study from Israel shows empirical evidence for significant improvements in the subjective well-being and in objective measures of functionality in a small sample of patients who received long-term psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy. While findings from larger samples will be needed to bolster the results of the current study, the observations offer strong support for the benefit of long-term psychotherapy, even in the treatment of serious mental illness.

I linked to the article in Haaretz about the study on my Facebook page (see, where you can read more.

Irit Felsen

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