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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2009 Feb;77(1):103-12. doi: 10.1037/a0014653.

Maintenance of gains following experiential therapies for depression.

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Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Follow-up data across an 18-month period are presented for 43 adults who had been randomly assigned and had responded to short-term client-centered (CC) and emotion-focused (EFT) therapies for major depression. Long-term effects of these short-term therapies were evaluated using relapse rates, number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic weeks, survival times across an 18-month follow-up, and group comparisons on self-report indices at 6- and 18-month follow-up among those clients who responded to the acute treatment phase. EFT treatment showed superior effects across 18 months in terms of less depressive relapse and greater number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic weeks, and the probability of maintaining treatment gains was significantly more likely in the EFT treatment than in the CC treatment. In addition, follow-up self-report results demonstrated significantly greater effects for EFT clients on reduction of depression and improvement of self-esteem, and there were trends in favor of EFT, in comparison with CC, on reduction of general symptom distress and interpersonal problems. Maintenance of treatment gains following an empathic relational treatment appears to be enhanced by the addition of specific experiential and gestalt-derived emotion-focused interventions. Clinical and theoretical implications of these findings are presented.

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