Study shows significant evidence for long term counselling for chronic depression

October 26, 2015 1:27 pm Published by

A landmark research study has been published in the World Psychiatry Journal by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Mental Health Trust.

The study provides significant evidence for the effectiveness of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy/counselling for NHS patients suffering from chronic depression.

The Counselling Foundation specialises in this form of counselling and counsellor training and so this report is very welcomed in that it provides statistics that determine this modality is more beneficial than other modes of therapy.

The aim of psychoanalytic psychotherapy/counselling is to bring the unconscious mind into consciousness – helping individuals to unravel, experience and understand their true, deep-rooted feelings in order to resolve them.

Started over ten years ago, the study is the first randomised controlled trial in the NHS to establish if this type of therapy can help people not helped by treatments currently provided such as antidepressants, short-term courses of counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Crucially, participants were followed for two years after treatment, in order to look at long-term therapeutic effects.  The study found that nearly half of the patients were still undergoing major improvements two years after therapy ended.

The study found that:

  • 44% of the patients who were given 18 months of weekly psychoanalytic psychotherapy/counselling no longer had major depressive disorder when followed up two years after therapy had ended; for those receiving treatments currently provided by the NHS, the figure was 10%
  • While just 14% of those receiving the psychoanalytic psychotherapy/counselling had recovered completely, full recovery occurred in only 4% of those receiving the treatments currently provided by the NHS
  • In every 6-month period of the trial’s exceptional 3 ½ years of observation of participants, the chances of going into partial remission for those receiving psychoanalytic psychotherapy/counselling were 40% higher than for those who were receiving the usual treatments
  • After two years of follow-up, depressive symptoms had partially remitted in 30% of those receiving the psychoanalytic counselling; in the control condition this figure was again only 4%
  • Those receiving the psychoanalytic psychotherapy/counselling also saw significantly more benefits to their quality of life, general well-being and social and personal functioning
  • Some patients did not benefit and research is ongoing to identify the reasons underlying the differences in responsiveness.

The paper has been published in the open access journal World Psychiatry and can be accessed here.

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