A Look at the Evidence


A Look at the Evidence

Top 10 Research Findings of the Last 25 Years

By Jay Lebow

March/April 2007


How much does empirical research direct the way therapists actually practice? Most surveys indicate that clinicians regard other sources of information, such as supervision and their personal experience of therapy, as being far more important than formal research studies in influencing how they work with their clients. That's unfortunate because the last quarter-century has produced an astonishing amount of meaningful research demonstrating not only the overall effectiveness of psychotherapy, but the positive impact of specific therapeutic methods with particular disorders. To give you an idea of how far the marriage of research and therapy has advanced, here are my choices of the 10 most significant developments in the field that research has documented during the last 25 years:

1) Psychotherapy has been shown to be at least as effective as medication in treating such common psychiatric diagnoses as dysthymic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and chemical dependency. Metanalyses of psychotherapy studies, such as those conducted by Mary Lee Smith, Gene Glass, and Thomas Miller in the early 1980s, show that individual, group, and family therapies alike have large statistical and clinical effects. Furthermore, in a survey conducted by psychologist Martin Seligman for Consumer Reports in 1995, the great majority of respondents reported positively of their psychotherapy experience, showing unusually high levels of consumer…

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