The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy: The Consumer Reports Study

From: Chris Rasch (
Date: Sat Feb 03 2001 - 21:46:55 MST

The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy: The Consumer Reports Study
Martin E. P. Seligman
University of Pennsylvania
American Psychologist, December 1995
Vol. 50, No. 12, 965-974

Abstract. Consumer Reports (1995, November) published an article which
concluded that patients benefited very substantially from
psychotherapy, that long-term treatment did considerably better than
short-term treatment, and that psychotherapy alone did not differ in
effectiveness from medication plus psychotherapy. Furthermore, no
specific modality of psychotherapy did better than any other for any
disorder; psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers did not
differ in their effectiveness as treaters; and all did better than
marriage counselors and long-term family doctoring. Patients whose
length of therapy or choice of therapist was limited by insurance or
managed care did worse. The methodological virtues and drawbacks of
this large-scale survey are examined and contrasted with the more
traditional efficacy study, in which patients are randomized into a
manualized, fixed duration treatment or into control groups. I
conclude that the Consumer Reports survey complements the efficacy
method, and that the best features of these two methods can be
combined into a more ideal method that will best provide empirical
validation of psychotherapy.

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