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What is the best psychotherapy? What does the MMPI-2 say about it?

In Matt Jarvis’s text (2004) “Psychodynamic Psychology- Classical Theory & Contemporary Research” he refers to my 2001 study using the MMPI as a treatment outcome measure. CBT and other non-psychoanalytic treatments use outcome measures of just the surface symptoms. They do not use the MMPI, which measures the personality traits and syndromes underneath the psychological symptoms. The MMPI does not react to CBT and other shallow treatments. Psychoanalytic-psychodynamic treatments aim at the underlying personality traits and should show changes in the MMPI scores. Jarvis wrote: “The most widely used measure of psychopathology, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), generally reveals quite small changes in response to brief psychological therapies. Gordon (2001) set out to test whether long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy would show greater change as assessed by the MMPI: 55 outpatients with multiple symptoms were tracked and retested on the MMPI. Personality change took an average of two years, but by the end of treatment all the patients had decreased significantly in psychopathology, entering the normal rage of MMPI scores. This is a highly significant finding as it suggests that there is something unique about the effects of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy above and beyond those of briefer psychological therapies.” (p.184)

In 2010, Jonathan Shedler had his article, “The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy”, published in psychology’s main journal, the American Psychologist. In his review of the best research available, psychodynamic therapy (PDT) (this includes all the psychoanalytic treatments) was found to be better than CBT and other non-psychoanalytic treatments for: depression, anxiety, panic, somatoform disorders, eating disorders, substance related disorders, and personality disorders. The effects did not decay over time as with the more surface treatments, and the patients continued to grow by using the insights they had learned in PDT (See my review 2010).

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