Does Psychotherapy Work? It Depends on Who You Ask
Psychotherapy is a lot like cooking: An art and a science
Posted Sep 19, 2011
You may have seen the recent provocative Time magazine article entitled, Q&A: Yale Psychologist Calls for the End of Individual Psychotherapy (September 13). In it Maia Szalavitz interviews former American Psychological Association President and noted Yale professor, Dr. Alan Kazdin, about the status of psychotherapy in 2011. According to Dr. Kazdin, it isn't pretty!
Current APA president, Dr. Melba J. T. Vasquez, has written a retort to the piece and it appears that some of what Dr. Kazdin said was taken out of context and wasn't accurate. Regardless of the facts associated with the interview, the issues raised by the Time article warrant reflection and comment.
The push for empirically validated and manualized treatments has been tempered in recent years with the more current focus on evidence based practice. Without getting into too much details about these issues here, the bottom line is that in 2011 clinicians clearly must be attentive to and mindful of quality empirical research that can inform them about the very best strategies available to treat patients with various diagnoses. They really do need to do this to provide competent care. Otherwise malpractice risks increase as well as potential harm to their patients. However, what is often difficult for researchers to understand is that each patient is remarkably unique and that each clinical patient tends to have other co-morbid diagnoses operating at the same time as well as unique biological, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions to make each case special and one-of-a-kind. So, one size clearly doesn't fit all when it comes to psychotherapy interventions. You can't apply an empirically validated and manualized treatment on all patients with the same diagnosis. It needs to be tweaked thoughtfully to serve the individual needs and desires of each patient.
So what do you think?
And by the way, if you're interested in reading the Time interview you can do so at... http://healthland.time.com/2011/09/13/qa-a-yale-psychologist-calls-for-t...