What should we expect from psychotherapy?

Clin Psychol Rev. 2013 Nov;33(7):862-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2013.05.003. Epub 2013 May 11.


In addressing the very general question of what we should expect from psychotherapy, this article begins by discussing what constitutes relevant evidence on which to base the efficacy and effectiveness of psychotherapy. In this context, an important distinction is made between empirically supported treatments and evidence-based practice. Although there is evidence that psychotherapy does indeed work, there are also findings that there are times when our patients are harmed by our interventions. It is noted that the therapeutic alliance plays an extremely important role in the change process, and that ruptures in the alliance can contribute to our therapeutic failures. In pointing to directions for the future, modifications of how we investigate the outcome of treatment, as well as how to close the gap between research and practice, are offered.

Keywords: Clinical trials; Clinical-research gap; Empirically supported treatments; Evidence-based practice; Therapy alliance; Therapy goals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Practice*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome