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Research on Counselling

  • An imaging study by neuroscientists in Canada found that patients who recovered from depression with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) show a pattern of brain changes that is distinct from patients who recover with drug therapy. It's an important  finding because it shows -- for the first time with definitive imaging evidence -- that the depressed brain responds 'differently' to different treatments.  According to senior author Helen Mayberg MD, “[o]ur imaging study shows that you can correct the depression network along a variety of pathways. . . . Anti-depressant drugs change the chemical balance in the brain through effects at very specific target sites. CBT [Cognitive Behavioral Therapy] also changes brain activity; it's just tapping into a different component of the same depression circuit board.” Barclay, L. (2004). Brain PET shows different effects of depression treatment. Medscape Medical News.
  •  Dr. Cuijpers, from the Department of Clinical Psychology in Amsterdam, conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies examining the effects of psychological treatments on patients presenting with prodomal symptoms of depression. He included 7 studies with over 700 subjects, and found that psychotherapy decreased depression symptoms in most subjects and may even have prevented the onset of major depression. Cuijpers, P., Smit, F., & Van Straten, A. (2007). Psychological treatments of subthreshold depression: a meta-analytic review. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 115, pp. 434-441.
  • This preliminary study sought to evaluate the potential effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as a treatment modality for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Using a single-case design with multiple baselines across four subjects, the effectiveness of 15 EMDR sessions was evaluated. Results indicate that subsequent to targeting the experiential contributors to GAD and the current and anticipated situations that caused excessive worry, the scores of anxiety and of excessive worry dropped to levels below diagnostic threshold and in two cases to full remission of GAD symptoms. At both post treatment and at 2 months follow-up, all four participants no longer presented with GAD diagnosis. In addition, time-series analyses (ARMA) indicate statistically significant improvement on both daily measures of worry and anxiety over the course of the EMDR treatment. Gauvreau, P. & Bouchard, S. (2008). Preliminary evidence for the efficacy of EMDR in treating generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 2, 26-40.
  • High success rates in counselling consistently appear in a meta-analysis of the literature. Lipsey and Wilson document a strong tendency, in their meta-analysis, of the positive effects of counselling above the placebo effect threshold. Lipsey, M. W. & Wilson, D. B. (1993). The efficacy of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatment: Confirmation from meta-analysis. American Psychologist, 48, pp.1181- 1209.
  •  Consumer Reports published an article which concluded that patients benefited very substantially from psychotherapy, that long-term treatment did considerably better than short-term treatment, and that psychotherapy alone did not differ in effectiveness from medication plus psychotherapy. Furthermore, no specific modality of psychotherapy did better than any other for any disorder and psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers did not differ in their effectiveness as treatment providers. Seligman, M. (1995). The effectiveness of psychotherapy, Consumer Reports.
  • EMDR was superior to both control conditions in the amelioration of both PTSD symptoms and depression.  Upon termination of therapy, the EMDR group continued to improve while the Fluoxetine participants again became symptomatic.  Van der Kolk, B., Spinazzola, J. Blaustein, M., Hopper, J. Hopper, E., Korn, D., & Simpson, W. (2007). A randomized clinical trial of EMDR, fluoxetine and pill placebo in the treatment of PTSD: Treatment effects and long-term maintenance. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 68, 37-46.
  • Twenty-six children (average age 10.4 years) with behavioral problems were randomly assigned to receive either 4 sessions of EMDR or CBT. Both were found to have significant positive effects on behavioral and self-esteem problems, with the EMDR group showing significantly larger changes in target behaviors. Wanders, F., Serra, M., & de Jongh, A. (2008). EMDR Versus CBT for children with self-esteem and behavioral problems: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 2, 180-189.