Purpose: In Iran, psychotherapy is regarded as an effective treatment for psychiatric disorders. However, no previous research has identified the key elements of psychotherapy that may be specific to Iranian society. The current study was conducted in an attempt to identify these elements.
Methods: A mixed-method modified Delphi approach was used, taking place over several stages during 2017-2018. The first stage involved interviewing 12 experts in psychotherapy to identify key elements of psychotherapy in Iran by thematic analysis. Then, successive Delphi rounds were conducted to obtain consensus (75% agreement) from 70 psychotherapy experts on these key elements.
Results: Key elements of psychotherapy were grouped into the following themes: (1) systematic education/training; (2) psychotherapist competency; (3) psychotherapy reflective of Iranian societal needs; and (4) the substrate (scientific/ethical principles) of psychotherapy. Consensus was reached during two Delphi rounds. In Delphi round 1, 52.8% of the statements reached consensus, and all remaining statements reached consensus in round 2.
Conclusions: The key elements of psychotherapy in Iran are a set of conditions for the education and training of competent psychotherapists who can perform psychiatric interventions appropriate to Iranian society under supervised rules. These should serve as a framework for improving the current delivery of psychotherapy in Iran.
Keywords: Iran; key elements; mixed-method Delphi study; psychotherapy.