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Long-Term Psychotherapy Seen As Beneficial

Meta-analysis supports at least a year of psychotherapy for complex mental disorders

TUESDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- In the treatment of patients with complex mental disorders, long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy lasting at least a year is significantly more effective than short-term therapy, according to a review published in the Oct. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Falk Leichsenring, of the University of Giessen, and Sven Rabung, Ph.D., of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, both in Germany, conducted a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials and 12 observational studies involving 1,053 patients who received long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (at least a year, or 50 sessions).

Compared to short-term therapy, the researchers found that long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy had superior overall effectiveness (effect size 1.8), suggesting that patients who received long-term therapy had better outcomes than 96 percent of other patients.

"The meta-analysis by Leichsenring and Rabung in this issue of JAMA provides evidence about the effectiveness of long-term dynamic psychotherapy for patients with complex mental disorders who often do not respond adequately to short-term interventions," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "It is ironic and disturbing that this occurs at a time when provision of psychotherapy by psychiatrists in the United States is declining significantly. The reasons for this merit careful evaluation."

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