Using the internet to provide psychodynamic psychotherapy

Psychodyn Psychiatry. 2013 Dec;41(4):513-40. doi: 10.1521/pdps.2013.41.4.513.


Over the last 15 years, there has been a substantial increase in research and clinical implementations of Internet-delivered, cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT). Several studies on ICBT have been in the format of guided self-help where a therapist guides the patient throughout the whole treatment. ICBT is typically in the form of self-help material (e.g., text or video) which is provided to a client over the Internet with additional therapist contact by e-mail. ICBT has been shown to be effective for various conditions and, in some studies, has shown to be as effective as face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy for mild to moderate depression, anxiety disorders, and somatic problems. Recently, the field has expanded to include other orientations including psychodynamic psychotherapy. Currently, there are three randomized controlled trials that have tested the efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy delivered in this format. The latest published trial focused on an affect-focused, psychodynamic psychotherapy delivered to a sample of participants with mixed depression and anxiety disorders. This article aims to provide a deeper understanding of the process of providing psychodynamic psychotherapy via the Internet. We will give a detailed description of our latest manual and show how psychotherapeutic work is conducted utilizing this text. Furthermore, we provide examples of dialogue between therapist and client from the online environment. Similarities and differences between psychodynamic psychotherapy delivered over the Internet and in face-to-face formats are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / instrumentation
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / standards
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic / instrumentation
  • Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic / methods*
  • Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic / standards
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Telemedicine / standards