ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside April/May 2006

Psychotherapy on Trial

Empirically supported therapies seek to bring the power of research-proven techniques to the therapist's office. So why are they controversial?

In the past half a century psychotherapy research has blossomed, with thousands of studies confirming its positive effects for a wide array of clinical problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and sexual dysfunction. Yet in recent years, intense controversy over whether and how to put these findings into practice has erupted, further widening the "scientist-practitioner gap," the deep gulf that has separated many researchers and psychotherapists for decades.

The current debate centers on the growing use of empirically supported therapies, or ESTs, which are specific therapies for specific problems--for example, depression and bulimia--that meet certain criteria (such as a given number of well-designed studies showing positive effects) for treatment efficacy. Proponents have welcomed ESTs for their clear guidelines on what works for patients and their explicit manuals prescribing administration of treatment. Critics have sharply questioned ESTs on a number of grounds, namely, whether their research base is adequate, whether their one-size-fits-all approach can address the needs of individual patients, and whether their focus should be primarily alleviation of symptomatic distress or changes in underlying dispositions and vulnerabilities.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Back To School

Back to School Sale!

12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

Order Now >

X

Email this Article



This function is currently unavailable

X