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Featured Article in Psychotherapy Research

A train of thought: 25 years of Psychotherapy Research - J. Christopher Muran & Wolfgang Lutz


In the introduction article the editors present a retrospective about the first 25 years of the Journal, referencing its most cited articles. Their analysis illustrates the diverse theoretical and methodological approaches to psychotherapy research that populate the Journal, and demonstrate its growing international character.


To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Journal, the editors present seven invited papers that reflect on the past and future of the Journal, and the field of psychotherapy research more broadly.   
While reading the other articles in the issue, the following authors’ considerations and recommendations felt salient to me:

  • Some psychotherapy schools have been declining despite the developments and achievements of their research programs and regardless of the consistent finding of no differential effectiveness of treatments. In this respect, we are warned of the negative consequences of an hegemonic epistemology; to recognize the contributions for psychotherapy coming from research of different traditions, and to preserve the complementary world views that each theory propose. Several methodological and policy-oriented ideas for facing the challenge of gradually overcoming the research funding difficulties of marginalized or emergent treatments are presented. Recommendations for integrationist research efforts and collaboration between different psychotherapeutic approaches can be found across the articles in this issue.
  • Studies carried out in real-world settings, such as those conducted through Practice Based Research Networks, are needed to increase the clinical relevance of research findings and to facilitate the implementation and dissemination of treatments. In closing the gap between research and practice, it is necessary to study treatment effects beyond outcomes. Critical aspects of this work include attention to the feasibility of interventions and factors that impact the uptake of treatments (e.g., satisfaction, costs, acceptability).
  • Understanding of moderators, mediators, mechanisms of change, and predictors of response to treatment are important in order to better guide case formulation and enable clinicians to select appropriate strategies to maximize treatment effects. These kinds of studies are relevant within specific treatments, as well as for integrationist initiatives.
  • Methodological pluralism is a condition for the development of the field.
  • There is an emerging role for technology in psychotherapy treatment and research.
  • Clinical training is an area of concern for those interested in the preservation and development of original contributions of a particular psychotherapeutic approach, as well as for those interested in a training that emphasizes the common factors or an integrative perspective.

In summary, this issue of the journal presents key findings coming from psychotherapy research and illuminates the beginning of the road for the next generation of researchers in this field. Of note, there was a general omission of ethical considerations, and few specific references to treatments for the underprivileged, disadvantaged or poor populations. Hopefully this can be included in future discussions. There are many possibilities and the future looks exciting. 


Review by Álvaro Carrasco G.

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