A meta-study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry concludes that psychodynamic therapy is as effective as treatment for mental disorders as cognitive behavioral therapy.

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This emerges in one new study. The background for the study is that psychodynamic therapy is one of the common forms of therapies given in today's mental health care around the world, but that much is unclear related to whether this form of therapy can actually show an effect.

The authors of the study refer to previous studies that both argue for and against that psychodynamic therapy can have an effect.

However, they point out that this meta-study is the first of its kind to use a so-called equivalence test, which can answer whether psychodynamic therapy is equivalent to (equivalent to) other documented effective forms of therapy.

As cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that has good evidence of being effective in treating various mental disorders, psychodynamic therapy was compared with CBT.

The meta-study included 23 studies that included a total of 2,751 patients, and compared the effect of the treatments on mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.

The authors conclude that the average effects of psychodynamic therapies did not differ from the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy.

The interpretation of this is that psychodynamic therapies can point to "as good" treatment effects as CBT.

They add that the therapist seems to have a greater impact on how successful a therapy is than which form of therapy is used.

This is an exciting study, not least because Norwegian psychologists have previously expressed concern that cognitive therapies gain autocracy as a form of therapy in Norwegian mental health care. 

The new meta-study points out that neither psychodynamic nor cognitive therapies have superior results, and that in both forms of therapy there is a relatively large number of patients who do not improve as a result of the therapy.

There is still a lot that is unclear about who benefits most from psychodynamic therapies versus, for example, cognitive behavioral therapies, the study concludes.