Millions of Americans will talk about therapy. But does it work? This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer.
Talk therapy produces great benefits for some people, but not everyone, so it might not work for you, my colleague Susan Dominus wrote for The New York Times Magazine therapy issuereleased this week.
Researchers were only able to come to this conclusion relatively recently. Since the time of Sigmund Freud, the field of psychotherapy has been reluctant, even hostile, to the evaluation of its methods by empirical studies. “When I graduated from psychoanalytic training, a supervising analyst told me, ‘Your analysis will cure you of the need to do research,'” said Andrew Gerber, president of a Connecticut psychiatric treatment center. , to the Times.
This resistance has declined over the past decades, leading to hundreds of clinical trials. The results have been mixed. Some studies have shown that therapy is more likely to help than not. Other research has shown more limited results, suggesting that the therapy helps some patients, but not many or even most.
For what? It probably depends on individual preferences. A therapist or type of therapy that works for one person may not fit someone else’s personality or issues. So a study to find out if a type of therapy works is likely to produce limited results, no matter how effective that therapy is for some people.
And for some, talk therapy might never be a good match for other kinds of help, like medication.
Some experts have drawn a disappointing conclusion. “Maybe we’ve reached the limit of what you can do by talking to someone,” said David Tolin, director of another treatment center in Connecticut. “Maybe it will get so good.” Others are now trying to harness the evidence to improve talk therapy and find ways to connect patients to the type of therapy that would work best for them.
Speaking to researcher Timothy Anderson, Susan expressed her own frustrations with the murky evidence:
Perhaps I had – as a longtime comfort-seeking therapy consumer – reached my limit with the arguments between different clinicians and researchers, caveats, and debates over methodology. “The research seems very… baggy,” I said, not bothering to hide my frustration. “It’s not very satisfying.” I could practically hear a smile on the other end of the phone. “Well, thank you,” Anderson said. “That’s what makes this research so interesting. There are no simple answers, are there? »
Read Susan’s cover story here for more details on the evidence for different types of therapy and how therapists try to improve.
More from the magazine
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Our editors’ picks: “The Covenant of Water”, which follows generations of a southwestern Indian family, and eight other books.
Times Bestsellers: ‘A Day With No Words’, written by Tiffany Hammond and illustrated by Kate Cosgrove, topped the chart list of children’s picture books.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Greece is holding elections today.
Two Republicans are expected to enter the presidential race this week: DeSantis And Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina.
A man who was photographed putting his boots on a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office during the January 6 attacks will be sentenced on Wednesday.
A House subcommittee will hold a hearing on banking and regulatory failures on Wednesday.
Biden will deliver the commencement address at his alma mater, the University of Delaware, on Saturday.