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Therapeutic Interventions Related to Outcome in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Anxiety Disorder Patients

Slavin-Mulford, Jenelle MA*; Hilsenroth, Mark PhD; Weinberger, Joel PhD; Gold, Jerold PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: April 2011 - Volume 199 - Issue 4 - p 214-221
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182125d60
Original Articles

This is the first study with acceptable inter-rater reliability to examine specific therapeutic techniques related to change in anxiety disorder patients during short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy. The study first examined the effectiveness of short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy and results showed significant and positive pre-/post-treatment changes on both patient and independent clinical ratings for anxiety, global symptomatology, relational, social, and occupational functioning. Likewise, the majority of patients (76%) reported anxiety symptoms within a normal distribution at termination. Importantly, psychodynamic interventions rated early in treatment (third/fourth session) were positively related to changes in anxiety symptoms. Further, results showed that several individual psychodynamic techniques were meaningfully related to outcome including (1) focusing on wishes, fantasies, dreams, and early memories; (2) linking current feelings or perceptions to the past; (3) highlighting patients' typical relational patterns; and (4) helping patients to understand their experiences in new ways. Clinical applications are discussed.

*Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; and †Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York.

Send reprint requests to: Jenelle Slavin-Mulford, MA, The Psychological Evaluation and Research Laboratory (PEaRL), Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School, One Bowdoin Square, 7th Floor, Boston, MA 02114. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.