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Am Psychol. 2011 Feb-Mar;66(2):148-9; discussion 152-4. doi: 10.1037/a0021248.

Is there room for criticism of studies of psychodynamic psychotherapy?

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McGill University, Jewish General Hospital, Canada.


Comments on the original article, "The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy," by J. Shedler (see record 2010-02208-012). Shedler declared unequivocally that "empirical evidence supports the efficacy of psychodynamic therapy" (p. 98). He did not mention any specific criticisms that have been made of evidence on psychodynamic psychotherapies or address possible distinctions between evidence for short-term versus long-term psychodynamic psychotherapies. Instead, he attributed dissenting views to biases in evidence dissemination and review, which he suggested are rooted in a "lingering distaste in the mental health professions professions for past psychoanalytic arrogance and authority" related to a "hierarchical medical establishment that denied training to non-MDs and adopted a dismissive stance toward research" (Shedler, 2010, p. 98). Shedler (2010) justified his blanket dismissal of criticisms of evidence supporting psychodynamic psychotherapy on the basis of several published meta-analyses. The validity of conclusions from metaanalyses depends on the quality of the evidence synthesized, the nature of the studies included, and the rigor of the statistical analyses employed. Many meta-analyses, however, are not performed rigorously, which can result in treatment efficacy estimates that obscure important intertrial differences and that are unlikely to be replicated in clinical practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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