Research

of psychoanalytic psychotherapy
There has been a significant increase in the amount of academic and clinical research into the effectiveness of psychoanalytic psychotherapy over the last decade or so. Many psychoanalytically informed treatments are now available on the NHS[1], a number of which, including those designed for children and adolescents, are featured in the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines as recommended treatments for common disorders[2]. Further, a number of systematic reviews have highlighted the effectiveness of child psychotherapy for a wide range of difficulties[3]

“Child and adolescent psychotherapy is recognised by the Government as a core profession within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), as set out in Standard 9 of the National Service Framework (NSF) for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (September 2004)” – from childpsychotherapy.org

Contemporary studies have highlighted the way in which specifically psychoanalytic help not only relieves symptoms like anxiety or depression for adults and children, but also continues to have a positive effect long after treatment itself has ended. This is in distinction to other, briefer forms of treatment. Recent research[4] suggests that adults who have received psychoanalytic psychotherapy continue improve across a range of domains, once their regular sessions have ended. This finding has also been shown in the treatment of children and adolescents[5] – children diagnosed with depression and treated with child psychotherapy saw:

  • statistically significant reductions in symptoms following treatment with child and adolescent psychotherapy
  • ongoing improvement at a six-month follow-up[6]

A number of books are available that have collected the most significant studies into the efficacy of child psychotherapy. The most recent of these,  Child Psychotherapy and Research: New Approaches, Emerging Findings (2009), details the many ways in which child psychotherapists use their training to help children with a wide range of presenting difficulties.

[1] For example, Mentalization Based Therapy (MBT) Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT)

[2] NICE (2017). Depression in children and young people: identification and management, Clinical guideline [CG28] https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG28

[3] See: Abbas A. et al. (2013) Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Children and Adolescents: a Meta-Analysis of Short-Term Psychodynamic Models, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2013 Aug;52(8):863-75 , and: Barlow J. et al. (2016) Parent- Infant Psychotherapy: a Systematic Review of the Evidence for Improving Parental and Infant Mental Health, Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 34, 5, 464-482

[4] Shedler, J. (2010). The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 65(2), 98-109.

[5] Trowell, J., Joffe, I., Campbell, J. et al. (2007) Childhood Depression: A Place for Psychotherapy, European Child Adolescent Psychiatry (2007) 16: 157. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-006-0584-x

[6] https://childpsychotherapy.org.uk/members/evidence-research