In recent years, support of psychodynamic psychotherapy for the treatment of schizophrenia spectrum and other forms of psychosis has diminished. This is not entirely a result of lack of validity or efficacy, but rather an investigative shift from traditional methods of therapy to more novel approaches. However, according to a recent study led by Bent Rosenbaum of the Department of Psychology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, psychodynamic therapy is still one of the most effective forms of treatment.
Rosenbaum compared treatment as usual (TaU) to TaU with supportive psychodynamic psychotherapy (SPP) in a sample of 269 adults admitted for psychosis. The participants were measured for global functioning and symptom severity before, during, and after the two-year treatment period. Rosenbaum found that the SPP group improved far more than the TaU group with respect to all levels of functioning and symptoms of psychosis. Over the course of two years of treatment, there were significant gains on social functioning and significant decreases on maladaptive symptoms for the participants in the SPP group.
These findings demonstrate that psychodynamic therapy and the core elements associated with that approach can still adequately serve the needs of many individuals with schizophrenia and other psychotic issues. Rosenbaum believes that when working with psychotic clients, clinicians should focus on the fundamental aspects of psychodynamic therapy. This includes overcoming obstacles to emotional processing, mental functioning relating to sense of self, and the development and maintenance of relational bonds. Cognitive development and attention to the present should also be incorporated to ensure maximum benefits for clients who struggle with these issues.
Rosenbaum hopes that this research will bring clinicians back to SPP and approaches of that kind. “It furthers recovery when it is used as a supplement to medical and social treatment modalities.” He added, “SPP should thus be taken into account as a modality in future research and treatment.” Doing so will open avenues of treatment for clients with varying levels of mental illness.
Rosenbaum, Bent, Susanne Harder, Per Knudsen, Anne Koster, Anne Lindhardt, Matilde Lajer, Kristian Valbak, and Gerda Winther. Supportive psychodynamic psychotherapy versus treatment as usual for first-episode psychosis: Two-year outcome. Psychiatry: Interpersonal & Biological Processes 75.4 (2012): 331-41. Print
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