The Problem of Psychotherapeutic Effectiveness

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Hundreds of evaluative studies of psychotherapy still leave the issue of its effectiveness unsettled. The author argues that such studies have ignored the major determinant of therapeutic effectiveness, the role of a patient’s belief in the successful outcome in therapy. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, one of the foremost critics of psychiatry, wrote of this paper: "It is one of the best, if not the best, that I have read on this subject.” It makes little sense to claim that a certain therapy is effective or ineffective in itself; rather, there is a relation of mutual interaction among three terms: a patient’s ability to learn in a psychological context, a therapist’s ability to teach, and the capacity of an approach to therapy to engender in the patient the necessary belief in its effectiveness. The paper is followed by a 4-page 2014 Afterword.
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