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Gordon, R.M. (2008a) Early reactions to the PDM by Psychodynamic, CBT and Other psychologists. Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, XXVI, 1, Winter, p.13. This copy is a prepublication manuscript.

I was able to ask a diverse group of psychologists their opinion about the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM, Task Force 2006). Most of the psychologists (66%) in my sample defined themselves as non-psychodynamic. They were in one of three of my workshops: 1) a workshop using the PDM to help with MMPI-2 interpretations (Gordon, 2007c), 2) a spring workshop “Ethics and the Difficult Person: What the PDM can teach us all”, and 3) a fall workshop on the same (Gordon, 2007d). All the workshops were in Pennsylvania where continuing education credits are mandatory as are ethics continuing educations credits. I mention this because at the time of ethics workshops, it was the end of the two-year, 2005-2007, cycle for completing our continuing education requirements. This gave me a sample of psychologists who would otherwise be unlikely to step foot into anything psychodynamic, but were desperate for CE credits.

I had asked the psychologists to state their primary theoretical identification and rate several questions at the end of the workshops. There were a total of 192 psychologists, 65 Psychodynamic, 76 CBT and 51 Other (i.e. systems, humanistic/existential, behavioral, etc.). In this preliminary report, I will share the results of the most important question, “I believe that the PDM can help me understand a person’s full range of mental health.” They rated this on a scale from “1= Low” to “7= High.”

The percentage of psychodynamic psychologists that favorably rated the PDM (rating in the 5-7 range) was 93.8%. The percentage of CBT psychologists that favorably rated the PDM was 81.6%. The percentage of psychologists who identified themselves as systems, humanistic/existential, or other that favorably rated the PDM was 90.3%. Over-all, the percent of psychologists that rated the PDM favorably in helping them understand a person’s full range of mental health was 88.57%.

The psychodynamic psychologists rated the PDM the highest (M = 6.18, SD = .90), which was significantly different than both the CBT and other groups (p = .004 and p = .022 respectively). The non-psychodynamic psychologists rated the PDM similarly (CBT M = 5.66, SD= 1.20; other M = 5.76, SD = 1.07). Since the CBT and other groups were not significantly different from each other, I will pool them in my future analyses. The effect sizes were small; Cohen’s d for Psychodynamic and CBT = .49, effect size r = .238; Cohen’s d for Psychodynamic and other = .43, effect size r = .21. In other words, the psychodynamic psychologists rated the PDM as more valuable than the non- psychodynamic psychologists, but by only by about ½ a point. This is a reliable, but weak difference.

These preliminary results not surprisingly indicate the enthusiastic response of psychodynamic psychologists to the PDM. However, more interesting was the response of non-psychodynamic psychologists. After only a 3-hour workshop, 85.95% of non-psychodynamic psychologists rated the PDM favorably. Many wrote on the survey that unfortunately they had not been exposed to the scientific basis and usefulness of psychodynamic formulation. These results point to the importance of educating psychologists and students in psychodynamic formulation and the PDM.



Gordon, R. M. (2007c). The Powerful Combination of the MMPI-2 and the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual, Independent Practitioner, Spring Issue, 84-85.

Gordon, R. M. (2007d, November/December). PDM valuable in identifying high-risk

patients National Psychologist, 16, (6), November/December, page 4.


PDM, Task Force (2006). Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual. Silver Spring, MD: Alliance of Psychoanalytic Organizations.

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