Friday, October 3, 2008

Long-term psychotherapy is superior, study finds

Psychotherapy lasting for at least one year is more effective than shorter periods of therapy for people with complex mental disorders, such as personality and chronic disorders, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. The success of dedicated psychotherapy may matter little, however, because fewer doctors are offering the service and fewer insurers are covering it.

In long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy, the therapist provides continued, close support for the patient while the pair work through problems and interventions. The JAMA study, from researchers in Germany, was an examination of 23 studies on the success of psychotherapy. It found that longer-term therapy (one year or longer) was superior to shorter-term methods in regard to overall outcome and personality functioning. On average, patients with complex mental conditions who were treated long-term were better off than 96% of the patients in the comparison groups.


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