Recording Psychotherapy Sessions May Improve Long-Term Results

There are measures in place to help improve progress made in psychotherapy. Some of these methods include reviewing recorded sessions, using manual-based strategies, and even having supervision to ensure treatment efficacy. All of these are known as research-specific procedures. However, some clinicians question the validity and use of such procedures and prefer to continue practicing in less structured environments, despite the fact specific psychotherapy methods have been shown to be highly effective. To get a better idea of the benefits of research-specific procedures, Joel M. Town of the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University in Canada recently conducted an analysis of existing psychodynamic psychotherapy trials involving more than 1,600 clients. The 46 trials included studies that incorporated research-specific procedures and studies that did not.

Town found that although there was no difference in the gains made pre- to post-treatment in those that did or did not use research procedures, those that did had significantly better outcomes at follow-up 12 months later. This suggests that for issues such as depression and anxiety, techniques such as reviewing recorded sessions may have a long-term impact on behaviors and attitudes that can carry over into overall well-being. The continuing impact on everyday life can be quite significant, a result of incorporating these research-specific procedures during treatment. “Research efforts should pay attention to the longer-term effects of audio/video review both for treatment outcome as well as therapist training and development of treatment competencies,” Town said.

This study does have its limitations, including the fact more recent trials may not have been included. Additionally, the subgroups examined in this most recent research may not have been used to isolate certain aspects of every existing study, which could have influenced the outcomes. Despite these shortcomings, Town’s findings show that the use of research-specific procedures can dramatically improve long-term outcomes of psychodynamic psychotherapy and that clinicians and therapists who are hesitant to incorporate these methods may have cause to reconsider.

Town, Joel M., Marc J. Diener, Allan Abbass, Falk Leichsenring, Ellen Driessen, and Sven Rabung. A meta-analysis of psychodynamic psychotherapy outcomes: Evaluating the effects of research-specific procedures. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice 49.3 (2012): 276-90. Print.

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  • Shera G

    Shera G

    October 29th, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    It’s always nice to have something that you can review over again after the fact. It’s kind of like taking notes but in a way that is not distracting to you and that you can probably very much benefit from when you want to review or feel like there is something that you need to hear again. This is a very tangible way for you to watch your own therapy and learn from it beyond that typical 1 hour session.

  • Norman


    October 29th, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Recording sessions for later review would hold benefit in the future obviously,because the recording will not affect the quality of the session but be an aid later on.Its good to see such a practice is being encouraged.I just hope that both the therapist and the patient can make the best use of such reference material-the therapist to improve his own practices and the client to review what happened in the therapy sessions so as to try and get back on track if there has been any deviation.

  • Bonnie


    October 29th, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Not really what sure the benefit to the patient would be but I can definitely see how therapists in training could benefit.

  • JOAN


    October 29th, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    I would love to have my therapy sessions recorded.Its not possible to remember a the points made and for a long time.Also it sounds weird to take notes during a therapy session so as a patient I would like access to such a recording for my reference down the road to my recovery.

  • Laken


    October 30th, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    How could you ever look at research based therapy as something that is not useful?

    Seems like it would be something pretty valuable for patients and clinicians.

    It is the perfect way to review the sessions and really analyze the things that are making a difference and making the most impact for recovery.

  • darleen


    October 30th, 2012 at 4:23 AM

    well if this is a research-specific procedure then i would say the research has been brilliant and that its now time to move this technique from research and into the therapist’s room.

    it ensures the correct methods are followed,helps the therapist review the client later and helps the client get a recap on shortcomings as far as I can see.

  • M.B


    October 31st, 2012 at 5:10 AM

    As much as a good thing,I would not be comfortable in therapy if I knew the session was being recorded.Being watched just makes me cringe and I would hate to have to sit in a room talking about everything in my life being recorded. No privacy advocates here?!

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