A growing amount of international studies provides evidence supporting the use of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical psychotherapy:

  1. IT WORKS FOR PEOPLE OF ALL AGES. Although not all difficulties can be treated, studies have shown that psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy are very effective treatments for a broad spectrum of mental health issues and that they are equally efficient in children, adults and the elderly. [1-3]. Approximately 8 out of 10 people report improvement after psychoanalytic treatment [4-6].
  2. IT HAS A POSITIVE IMPACT ON BRAIN FUNCTIONING. The brain is plastic and can be changed by environmental factors throughout life, not just in childhood [7, 8]. Several studies carried out with modern imaging techniques (fMRI, PET, SPECT) have shown that psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical psychotherapy not only change how we feel and behave, but also our brains [9, 10]. Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy have a positive influence on blood flow in the brain, the activity of the amygdala and hippocampus, neuronal pathways, brain metabolism, implicit memory and gene activity [10-12].
  3. IT REDUCES SUFFERING AND ENHANCES QUALITY OF LIFE. Studies have shown that psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy diminish suffering, increase self-awareness, improve relationships, liberate sexuality and desires, improve ability to cope with life crises, enhance creativity and productivity and help people to find more meaning and satisfaction in life [13-16].
  4. IT TREATS UNDERLYING CAUSES AS WELL AS SYMPTOMS. Unlike other psychotherapeutic methods, psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy identify and deal with the underlying causes of symptoms, not just the symptoms themselves [3, 17-19].
  5. IT’S OUTCOMES LAST AND IMPROVE EVEN AFTER THE END OF THERAPY: The clients of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy do not only report that the positive outcomes of psychotherapy are durable and lasting, but that they also continue to improve after the treatment [20, 21].
  6. IT IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN COUNSELING. Studies have shown that in the long term psychotherapy is more effective in treating mental health issues than counseling or acupuncture [22-24]. It is more effective than marital or family counseling and its healing impact is much greater, as when you try to resolve your mental difficulties with a friend, an astrologist, a personal trustee or an oracle [25].
  7. IT INCREASES ABILITY AND MOTIVATION TO WORK. Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy not only improve clients’ work performance, they also improve clients’ relationships in the workplace and speed up return to work in clients facing mental health problems [26-28].
  8. THE EFFICACY OF PSYCHOTHERAPY IS COMPARABLE TO THAT OF MEDICATION. Although medication can be appropriate and in some situations is essential, there is a risk that symptoms will return once the patient stops taking the medication. Psychotherapy goes to the heart of problems, which is the main reason the efficacy of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy are often comparable and why combined pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy produces better outcomes than pharmacotherapy alone [29, 30].
  9. ITS EFFECTS LAST LONGER THAN THOSE OF MEDICATION. Although medication can be helpful for mental health problems, studies have shown that the effects of psychotherapy are often more enduring than those of pharmacotherapy [31, 32].
  10. UNLIKE MEDICATION, PSYCHOTHERAPY DOESN’T HAVE SIDE EFFECTS. Many people prefer psychotherapy to pharmacotherapy due to the negative side-effects of many drugs [33, 34].
  11. PSYCHOTHERAPY REDUCES OVERALL MEDICAL COSTS. Although medication is often essential, psychotherapy significantly reduces the need for medication and reduces overall medical costs [35, 36]. On average people diagnosed with mental disorders who undergo psychotherapy, reduce their medical costs by nearly 20 percent whereas the medical costs of people with similar mental problems who do not undergo psychotherapy increase by an average of 12 percent [35, 37].
  12. IN THE LONG TERM PSYCHOTHERAPY IS CHEAPER THAN PHARMACOTHERAPY. Although in many disorders medication is undoubtedly helpful and sometimes necessary, studies have shown that psychotherapeutic treatment will ‑ in the long term ‑ cost a client less than treatment based solely on medication [31, 38, 39].
  13. INVESTMENT IN PSYCHOTHERAPY PRODUCES A 400% RETURN. According to the World Health Organization and World Bank, every Euro invested in psychotherapeutic treatment will ultimately lead — in various forms – to a gain of four Euros [40].
  14. ENTERING PSYCHOTHERAPY IS A SIGN OF STRENGTH, NOT WEAKNESS. Although Pope Francis has said that psychoanalysis “helped me a lot” there are still many people who claim that “It is for crazy people” “Strong people do not cry” and people that they should “deal with their own problems” [25, 41, 42]. However, studies show that visiting a psychotherapist is a sign of strength and care for one’s health and indicates a capacity for self-reflection and a more satisfactory and meaningful life [4, 14, 25].

Sources and literature:

  1. Beutler, L.E., Making science matter in clinical practice: Redefining psychotherapy. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 2009. 16(3): p. 301-317.
  2. Chorpita, B.F., et al., Evidence‐based treatments for children and adolescents: An updated review of indicators of efficacy and effectiveness. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 2011. 18(2): p. 154-172.
  3. Leichsenring, F. and S. Rabung, Effectiveness of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. Jama, 2008. 300(13): p. 1551-1565.
  4. Wampold, B.E. and Z.E. Imel, The great psychotherapy debate: The evidence for what makes psychotherapy work. 2015: Routledge.
  5. Norcross, J.C. and M.J. Lambert, Psychotherapy relationships that work II. Psychotherapy, 2011. 48(1): p. 4.
  6. Lambert, M.J., Bergin and Garfield’s handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change. 2013: John Wiley & Sons.
  7. Garland, E.L. and M.O. Howard, Neuroplasticity, psychosocial genomics, and the biopsychosocial paradigm in the 21st century. Health & Social Work, 2009. 34(3): p. 191-199.
  8. Sasmita, A.O., J. Kuruvilla, and A.P.K. Ling, Harnessing neuroplasticity: modern approaches and clinical future. International Journal of Neuroscience, 2018: p. 1-17.
  9. Gabbard, G.O., A neurobiologically informed perspective on psychotherapy. Br J Psychiatry, 2000. 177: p. 117-22.
  10. Wiswede, D., et al., Tracking functional brain changes in patients with depression under psychodynamic psychotherapy using individualized stimuli. PLOS one, 2014. 9(10): p. e109037.
  11. Simpkins, C.A. and A.M. Simpkins, How Psychotherapy Changes the Brain, in Neuroscience for Clinicians. 2013, Springer. p. 253-271.
  12. Minárik, P., Pohľad do mozgu Ako psychoterapia mení mozog.
  13. Van Deurzen, E., Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness. 2008: Sage.
  14. Seligman, M.E., T. Rashid, and A.C. Parks, Positive psychotherapy. American psychologist, 2006. 61(8): p. 774.