In 2010, in a remarkable move for the mostly anti-psychodynamic and prestigious academic journal, the ‘American Psychologist’, Jonathan Shedler reported findings from a large meta-analytic study (i.e. meta-analysis is a statistical method used to contrast and combine results from many studies to identify patterns among study results, sources of disagreement or other relationships revealed in the context of multiple sources of research findings) showing the efficacy of psychodynamic approaches. Shedler examined results from 80 studies published in top tier academic journals. The findings were indisputable: effect sizes for psychodynamic therapy were as large as those reported for so-called empirically supported or evidence-based ones. The data, moreover, showed that the effects of psychodynamic therapy were not only long-la sting, but improvement also continued after termination (Shedler, 2010). Most important for understanding the significance of the concepts, ‘working or therapeutic alliance’, is the conclusion reached by Shedler and now widely debated well beyond the scope of psychodynamic practice. The research suggests that the effectiveness of most therapeutic approaches to human sufferings include the effect of the therapy relationship on treatment (i.e. transference and countertransference, empathic attunement, all fundamental to the outcomes of all treatment and central to the formation and maintenance of a therapeutic alliance): exploration of the underlying emotional motivations for behaviour, feeling and thought (i.e. self-exploration) and understanding relational patterns.
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