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J Clin Psychol. 2010 Dec;66(12):1232-41. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20719. Epub 2010 Sep 7.

Change in defense mechanisms and coping over the course of short-term dynamic psychotherapy for adjustment disorder.

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University of Lausanne.


Short-term dynamic psychotherapy (STDP) has rarely been investigated with regard to its underlying mechanisms of change, even if psychoanalytic theory informs us about several potential putative mechanisms of change in patients. Change in overall defensive functioning is one. In this study, we explored the role of overall defensive functioning, by comparing it on the process level with the neighbouring concept of overall coping functioning. A total of N=32 patients, mainly presenting adjustment disorder, were included in the study. The patients underwent STDP up to 40 sessions; three sessions per psychotherapy were transcribed and analyzed by using two observer-rating scales: Defense Mechanism Rating Scales (Perry, 1990) and Coping Action Patterns (Perry, Drapeau, Dunkley, & Blake, 2005). Hierarchical linear modeling was applied to model the change over the course of therapy and relate it to outcome. Results suggest that STDP has an effect on the target variable of overall defensive functioning, which was absent for overall coping functioning. Links with outcome confirm the importance of the effect. These results are discussed from methodological and clinical viewpoints.

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