Efficacy of Psychotherapy: Asking the Right Questions

Stanley I. Greenspan, Steven S. Sharfstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Economic pressures and “value” judgments both compel and contaminate the current debate on the efficacy of psychotherapy. Too often, complex clinical trial outcome studies ignore the clinical or treatment process, as well as personality or contextual variables. Thus, they fail to build the foundations of a clinical science that makes possible the development of individually tailored treatment approaches and outcome predictions for specific patients with unique personalities, symptoms, and life circumstances. The real challenge, therefore, is for each psychotherapeutic approach to delineate its “process steps” and relate these steps to different outcomes. The “process” is the “final common pathway” for a number of patient, therapist, technique, and contextual variables. The capacity to predict the relationship between process and outcome at each stage in a therapeutic procedure is the relevant clinical test of “efficacy”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1213-1219
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Efficacy of Psychotherapy: Asking the Right Questions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this