Despite procedural limitations in the research on psychoanalysis, this meta-analysis – perhaps the only one analyzing research on psychoanalysis proper, found “empirical evidence for pre/post changes in psychoanalysis patients with complex mental disorders.”
In reviewing 27 studies examining long-term psychoanalytic therapies, the reviewers found large effect sizes for symptom reduction and moderate effect sizes for personality change in patients with moderate and severe pathology, and found that effect sizes were largely sustained between termination and post-termination follow-up.
The effectiveness of psychoanalytic psychotherapy: the role of treatment duration, frequency of sessions, and the therapeutic relationship.
“Findings indicated (1) an incremental gain in effectiveness scores from six to over twenty-four months of therapy; (2) an incremental gain with greater session frequency from one to two or three weekly sessions; (3) facilitation of effectiveness by the experience of a positive relationship with the therapist; (4) an interplay between clinical syndrome and treatment conditions”
Pragmatic randomized controlled trial of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy of treatment-resistance depression: The Tavistock Adult Depression Study
This study goes a long way towards shattering myths about psychoanalytic treatments and how they compare to other, more short-term and problem-solving models. The majority of studies on effectiveness have looked primarily at improvement at termination. This is one of very few following patients’ progress post-termination. The study compares patients with depression receiving long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (LTPP) with those receiving
A special edition of Contemporary Psychoanalysis on Research supporting Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic treatments.