The effectiveness of psychoanalytic psychotherapy: the role of treatment duration, frequency of sessions, and the therapeutic relationship

J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1999;47(3):741-72. doi: 10.1177/00030651990470031001.


This is an effectiveness study of treatment outcome that relies on patients' perception of their mental health during and after psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Ninety-nine outpatients attending the IPTAR Clinical Center (ICC) responded to the Effectiveness Questionnaire (EQ) adapted from that developed by Consumer Reports. Effectiveness is studied from various perspectives. Findings indicated (1) an incremental gain in effectiveness scores from six to over twenty-four months of therapy; (2) an incremental gain with greater session frequency from one to two or three weekly sessions; (3) facilitation of effectiveness by the experience of a positive relationship with the therapist; (4) an interplay between clinical syndrome and treatment conditions. A method giving clinical validity to the quantitative findings is described. Brief summaries of two recorded interviews reveal differential reconstruction of events that had occurred during treatment. The findings are discussed from the vantage point of two hypotheses: cognitive dissonance and internalization of therapeutic experience.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy / standards*
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self-Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • United States