5 Mar 2012
Different characteristics of psychotherapists may be beneficial in short- and long-term therapies, according to the latest results from the Helsinki Psychotherapy Study. Active, engaging, and extroverted therapist qualities were associated with a faster reduction in psychiatric symptoms especially in short-term therapies that lasted about half a year. More cautious, non-intrusive therapists were able to generate greater benefits especially in long-term therapy during the 3-year follow-up. Furthermore, therapists’ lower confidence and enjoyment in their therapeutic work predicted poorer outcomes in brief treatments in the long run.
The results are based on 3-year follow-up data of the study in which altogether 326 patients with mood or anxiety disorder were randomized during 1995-2000 to short-term (solution-focused or psychodynamic) or to long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy. Therapy was provided by 55 volunteering psychotherapists. Therapists evaluated their professional and personal characteristics by self-report before the initiation of the treatments.
As far as is known, the study is the first to investigate, in a comparative design, the impact of therapists’ professional and personal qualities in short- and long-term psychotherapies. If confirmed in future studies, results may be applied in psychotherapist training. Further research is needed on the associations between therapists’ professional and personal characteristics, and on their associations with other factors predicting outcome, such as the therapeutic alliance with the patient.
Heinonen Erkki, Lindfors Olavi, Laaksonen Maarit A, Knekt Paul. Therapist’s professional and personal characteristics as predictors of outcome in short- and long-term psychotherapy. Journal of Affective Disorders 2012, doi:10.1016/j.jad.2012.01.023
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Updated 5 Mar 2012