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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Obtaining consensus in psychotherapy: What holds us back?

Goldfried, M.R.
American Psychologist


Although the field of psychotherapy has been in existence for well over a century, it nonetheless continues to be preparadigmatic, lacking a consensus or scientific core. Instead, it is characterized by a large and increasing number of different schools of thought. In addition to the varying ways in which psychotherapy has been conceptualized, there also exists a long-standing gap between psychotherapy research and how it is conducted in actual clinical practice. Finally, there also exists a tendency to place great emphasis on what is new, often rediscovering or reinventing past contributions. This article describes each of these impediments to obtaining consensus and offers some suggestions for what might be done to address them.

Here is an excerpt:

There are at least three problematic issues that seem to contribute to the difficulty we have in obtaining a consensus within the field of psychotherapy: The first involves our long-standing practice of solely working within theoretical orientations or eclectic combinations of orientations. Moreover, not agreeing with those having other frameworks on how to bring about therapeutic change results in the proliferation of schools of therapy (Goldfried, 1980). The second issue involves the longstanding gap between research and practice, where many therapists may fail to see the relevance to their day-to-day clinical practice and also where many researchers do not make systematic use of clinical observations as a means of guiding their research (Goldfried, 1982).2 The third issue is our tendency to neglect past contributions to the field (Goldfried, 2000). We do not build on our previous body of knowledge but rather rediscover what we already know or—even worse—ignore past work and replace it with something new. What follows is a description of how these three issues prevent psychotherapy from achieving a consensus, after which there will be a consideration of some possible steps that might be taken in working toward a resolution of these issues.

The article is here, behind a paywall.