The evidence base
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy has a strong and expanding evidence base. There now exists a large number of studies which have examined the efficacy of short and long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy and the efficacy of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for specific conditions.
There is a consistent finding in the research of patients making considerable improvement, long after treatment has ended.
There is also evidence that non-psychoanalytic forms of therapy may be effective because of the inclusion of psychoanalytic techniques and process.
Some of the key findings from the research show that:
- Psychoanalytic psychotherapy yields impressive effect sizes, with effect sizes typically increasing at long-term follow up, suggesting that patients who receive psychoanalytic psychotherapy experience continuing psychological benefits long after therapy has ended.
- Longer-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy (one year’s treatment or more) is more effective than shorter forms of therapy for the treatment of complex mental disorders.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy has particularly promising findings in relation to helping people with personality disorder. Mentalization-based therapy (a form of psychoanalytic psychotherapy) has been shown to yield the most positive results for personality pathology.
- A growing body of evidence suggests that psychoanalytic psychotherapy is effective for many common mental disorders, including depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance-related disorder.
There is also a growing body of evidence which suggests that non-psychoanalytic therapies benefit from the inclusion of psychoanalytic processes and techniques.
Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy are essentially interchangeable terms and for the purposes of the research papers can be read as such.
Evidence and Research: external links
This list of external links showcases some of the research and evidence that has and is continuing to be done. We take no responsibility for content on external links.
The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families brings together leaders in neuroscience, mental health, social care and education to work together to improve understanding and practice.
Jonathan Shedler in the Scientific American: Getting to Know Me: What’s Behind Psychoanalysis. Psychodynamic therapy has been caricatured as navel-gazing, but studies show powerful benefits.
Tavistock and Portman Research and Innovation: building the evidence-base through collaborative and independent research.
The Single Case Archive compiles clinical, systematic and experimental single case studies in the field of psychotherapy.
UCL Psychoanalysis Unit: it’s mission is to break the mould of traditional approaches to psychoanalysis, taking inspiration from the discipline’s ideas to meet the challenges of the modern world.
Psychoanalytic Research Consortium article: What happens in a Psychoanalysis? A view through the lens of the analytic process scales.