Community mental health facilities cater to individuals from all walks of life, but are especially critical for people with limited financial means. People from low socioeconomic environments often rely on community services for their physical and mental health needs as they may be unable to afford private care. Among the issues treated at community facilities is major depressive disorder (MDD), a condition that will affect nearly one in five people at some point in their lives. Numerous types of therapeutic approaches have been shown to be effective for the treatment of MDD. One such approach is a brief psychodynamic method known as supportive expression (SE) psychotherapy, but little research on its efficacy exists. To test SE further, Mary Beth Connolly Gibbons, from the Center for Psychotherapy Research at the University of Pennsylvania, recently led a study to see how well brief SE worked on a sample of community mental health clients when compared to treatment as usual (TAU).
Gibbons recruited 40 individuals with MDD and enrolled half into the SE and the other half into TAU. At the end of 12 weeks, participants were assessed for symptom reduction and adherence. Gibbons discovered that although adherence was relatively moderate and similar for both SE and TAU, SE appeared to have a greater impact on symptom reduction than TAU. Specifically, half of the participants in the SE program saw a decrease in symptom severity from clinical to normative, while less than 30% of the TAU participants saw the same gains. Gibbons believes that greater treatment adherence could improve these outcomes, although the rate of completion in this study was equal to other types of treatment in community dwelling samples. She adds that the results could be expanded upon in future research by enrolling participants from varying socioeconomic backgrounds and not enticing them with payment, as was done in this study. Regardless of these conditions, Gibbons believes the findings of her study show that brief psychodynamic approaches can be viable for MDD and warrant further exploration. “These results indicate that a modified version of SE psychotherapy may be an especially important intervention in the treatment of MDD in the community mental health setting,” she said.
Gibbons, Mary Beth Connolly, Sarah M. Thompson, Kelli Scott, Lindsay A. Schauble, Tessa Mooney, Donald Thompson, Patricia Green, Mary Jo MacArthur, and Paul Crits-Christoph. Supportive-expressive dynamic psychotherapy in the community mental health system: A pilot effectiveness trial for the treatment of depression. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice 49.3 (2012): 303-16. Print.
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