Cognitive-behavioral therapy versus other therapies: redux

Clin Psychol Rev. 2013 Apr;33(3):395-405. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2013.01.004. Epub 2013 Jan 24.


Despite the evidence suggesting that all treatments intended to be therapeutic are equally efficacious, the conjecture that one form of treatment, namely cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is superior to all other treatment persists. The purpose of the current study was to (a) reanalyze the clinical trials from an earlier meta-analysis that compared CBT to 'other therapies' for depression and anxiety (viz., Tolin, 2010) and (b) conduct a methodologically rigorous and comprehensive meta-analysis to determine the relative efficacy of CBT and bona fide non-CBT treatments for adult anxiety disorders. Although the reanalysis was consistent with the earlier meta-analysis' findings of small to medium effect sizes for disorder-specific symptom measures, the reanalysis revealed no evidence for the superiority of CBT for depression and anxiety for outcomes that were not disorder-specific. Following the reanalysis, a comprehensive anxiety meta-analysis that utilized a survey of 91 CBT experts from the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapists (ABCT) to consensually identify CBT treatments was conducted. Thirteen clinical trials met the inclusion criteria. There were no differences between CBT treatments and bona fide non-CBT treatments across disorder-specific and non-disorder specific symptom measures. These analyses, in combination with previous meta-analytic findings, fail to provide corroborative evidence for the conjecture that CBT is superior to bona fide non-CBT treatments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy*