Experiential dynamic therapy (EDT) is a subgroup of short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (STPP) that emphasizes patients' in-session affective processing. To evaluate the efficacy of EDT for psychiatric conditions, we conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Twenty-eight studies published between 1978 and 2014 were included, encompassing 1,782 adult patients with mood, anxiety, personality, or mixed disorders. Across targeted outcome domains, medium-size between-groups effects (Cohen's ds ranging from 0.39 to 0.65) favored EDT over inactive controls at posttreatment and in symptom measures at follow-up. We found no differences between EDT and active treatments (e.g., medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, manualized supportive therapy) at posttreatment, but EDT outperformed supportive therapy at follow-up (d = 0.75). In terms of within-group effect sizes, EDT was associated with large improvements in general psychiatric symptoms (d = 1.11), depression (d = 1.33), and anxiety (d = 1.09) and with small to moderate gains in the areas of interpersonal problems (d = 0.55) and global functioning (d = 0.86). Small but significant effects suggested continued improvement between posttreatment and follow-up. Heterogeneity in pre-post effects was explored in subgroup analyses, which indicated that EDT might be most effective in depressive disorders and that individual EDT had larger effects compared with group treatment. In addition, EDT performed better in higher quality studies. We conclude that EDT is a promising treatment for psychiatric conditions in adults. Further high-quality studies evaluating contemporary versions of EDT in specific psychiatric conditions are warranted.
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