Psychodynamic therapy in a new format
Psychodynamic therapy via the Internet is effective in treating depression. This is shown in an LiU study carried out by Robert Johansson, doctoral student in clinical psychology, and his colleagues.
Depression causes great suffering for individuals and their families, and constitutes a heavy financial burden for society. A large number of studies have previously shown that cognitive behaviour therapy, or CBT, can cure depression via the Internet. A psychodynamic method of treatment in this format has never been published in a scientific study before.
In a new treatment study, a total of 92 patients with depression either underwent 10 weeks of psychodynamic therapy via the Internet, or were included in an active control group. Those included in the study were in many cases seriously troubled by their depression. Additionally, more than half had some form of anxiety complex.
The differences between the groups were large as regards to reducing the symptoms of depression. Compared with the control group, the effects in the group that received psychodynamic treatment were much greater. Furthermore, these were still evident in a follow-up 10 months after treatment was concluded.
“These results show that psychodynamic internet treatment for ten weeks stands up quite well against antidepressants and other psychological treatments,” says Johansson, who headed up the project. The study will now be published in the prestigious journal PLoS ONE.
The form of internet-based psychological treatment tested in the study is known as “guided self-help”. All the patients studied text-based materials provided over the Internet; in addition they had 10-15 minutes of therapeutic support via e-mail each week.
Gerhard Andersson, professor of Clinical Psychology, has researched internet-based psychological treatment since 1998 and was in charge of the new study.
“We’ve long known that cognitive behaviour therapy via the internet works just as well as meeting a therapist, but being able to transform psychodynamic trains of thought in an internet-based format is entirely new,” he says.
“There’s a big difference between how you work with depression in our psychodynamic treatment and previous internet-based treatments based on CBT,” Johansson says. Psychodynamic treatment incorporates methods for learning to see and understand recurring life patters based on both previous experiences and current situations. Typical CBT treatment focuses more on scheduling activities and challenging negative thinking. It could be said that psychodynamic treatment is more based on reflection.
Internet-based treatments have the potential to reach out to more people, since treatment is provided remotely and requires less time from a therapist. This treatment can thus spread out to a large number of patients.
“A majority of those working with psychological treatments in Sweden and the world use psychodynamic methods. Showing that it’s possible to provide psychodynamic treatment in this format can have major consequences for how internet-based treatment is spread,” Johansson says.
Psychodynamic Guided Self-help for Adult Depression Through the Internet: A Randomised Controlled Trial by Robert Johansson, Sigrid Ekbladh, Amanda Hebert, Malin Lindström, Sara Möller, Eleanor Petitt, Stephanie Poysti, Mattias Holmqvist Larsson, Andréas Rousseau, Per Carlbring, Pim Cuijpers, and Gerhard Andersson. PLoS ONE 7(5): e38021. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038021
Contact: Robert Johansson, 013-282217, 070-5797796, firstname.lastname@example.org
LiU Electronic press
Last updated: 2012-08-31