The Psychotherapy Practice Research Network (PPRNet) blog began in 2013 in response to psychotherapy clinicians, researchers, and educators who expressed interest in receiving regular information about current practice-oriented psychotherapy research. It offers a monthly summary of two or three published psychotherapy research articles. Each summary is authored by Dr. Tasca and highlights practice implications of selected articles. Past blogs are available in the archives. This content is only available in English.
…I blog about transtheoretical principles of change, microaggressions and outcomes, interpretations and outcomes.
Type of Research
- ALL Topics (clear)
- Alliance and Therapeutic Relationship
- Anxiety Disorders
- Attendance, Attrition, and Drop-Out
- Client Factors
- Client Preferences
- Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Combination Therapy
- Common Factors
- Depression and Depressive Symptoms
- Efficacy of Treatments
- Feedback and Progress Monitoring
- Group Psychotherapy
- Illness and Medical Comorbidities
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
- Long-term Outcomes
- Neuroscience and Brain
- Outcomes and Deterioration
- Personality Disorders
- Placebo Effect
- Practice-Based Research and Practice Research Networks
- Psychodynamic Therapy (PDT)
- Resistance and Reactance
- Self-Reflection and Awareness
- Suicide and Crisis Intervention
- Therapist Factors
- Transference and Countertransference
- Trauma and/or PTSD
- Treatment Length and Frequency
Association Between Insight and Outcome of Psychotherapy
Jennissen, S., Huber, J., Ehrenthal, J.C., Schauenburg, H., & Dinger, U. (2018). Association between insight and outcome of psychotherapy: Systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Psychiatry. Published Online: https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.17080847
For many authors, one of the purported mechanisms of change in psychotherapy is insight. In fact, the utility of insight for clients with mental health problems was first proposed over 120 years ago by Freud and Breuer. Briefly, insight refers to higher levels of self-understanding that might result in fewer negative automatic reactions to stress and other challenges, more positive emotions, and greater flexibility in cognitive and interpersonal functioning. Although insight is a key factor in some psychodynamic models, it also plays a role in other forms of psychotherapy. Experiential psychotherapy emphasises gaining a new perspective through experiencing, and for CBT insight relates to becoming more aware of automatic thoughts. Jennissen and colleagues defined insight as patients understanding: the relationship between past and present experiences, their typical relationship patterns, and the associations between interpersonal challenges, emotional experiences, and psychological symptoms. In this study, Jennissen and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta analysis of the insight-outcome relationship, that is the relationship between client self-understanding and symptom reduction. They reviewed studies of adults seeking psychological treatment including individual or group therapy. The predictor variable was an empirical measure of insight assessed during treatment but prior to when final outcomes were evaluated. The outcome was some reliable and empirical measure related to symptom improvement, pre- to post- treatment. The review turned up 22 studies that included over 1100 patients mostly with anxiety or depressive disorders who attended a median of 20 sessions of therapy. The overall effect size of the association between insight and outcome was r = 0.31 (95% CI=0.22–0.40, p < 0.05), which represents a medium effect. Moderator analyses found no effect of type of therapy or diagnosis on this mean effect size, though the power of these analyses was low.
The magnitude of the association between insight and outcome is similar to the effects of other therapeutic factors such as the therapeutic alliance. When gaining insight, patients may achieve a greater self-understanding, which allows them to reduce distorted perceptions of themselves, and better integrate unpleasant experiences into their conscious life. Symptoms may be improved by self-understanding because of the greater sense of control and master that it provides, and by the new solutions and adaptive ways of living that become available to clients.
Author email: Simone.Jennissen@med.uni-heidelberg.de
Clients’ Experiential Depth in Therapy Predicts Better Outcomes
Pascual-Leone, A. & Yeryomenko, N. (2016). The client “experiencing” scale as a predictor of treatment outcomes: A meta-analysis on psychotherapy process, Psychotherapy Research, DOI: 10.1080/10503307.2016.1152409
A key issue in existential-humanistic psychotherapy is the degree to which therapy encourages clients to explore new feelings and meanings in relation to the self. This is often called ‘experiential depth’ or simply ‘experiencing’. Carl Roger highlighted the need for clients to increase their awareness, accept their feelings, and use their feelings as information to further explore and understand themselves. The notion of ‘depth of experiencing’ refers to the degree to which clients engage and explore their feelings moment by moment in therapy to increase personal meaning-making. One way of assessing experiential depth is with the Client Experiencing Scale. Low scores on the scale indicate unengaged levels of experiencing, in which clients recount events in an emotionally neutral or disengaged manner. High scores indicate more introspection as clients begin to process their experiences and identify feelings that lead to creating new meanings that contribute to resolving their problems. In this meta analysis of the Client Experiencing Scale, Pascual-Leone and Yeryomenko systematically reviewed the research literature and found 10 studies of 406 clients that evaluated the scale`s association with client outcomes. The therapies in the meta analysis included experiential-humanistic approaches, CBT, and interpersonal psychotherapy. Overall, they found a moderate association (r = .25; 95% CI: .16, .33) between higher client experiencing and better treatment outcomes. The association was similar for different therapeutic orientations and stages of therapy. On average, client depth of experiencing tended to increase from the early to later stages of treatment.
Compared to those who did not engage with their experiences in a meaningful way, clients who were internally focused, engaged in exploration, referred to their emotions, and who reflected on their experiences had better outcomes. Experiential depth allowed clients to create new meanings to resolve personal problems. Therapist interventions that deliberately point the client to a deeper level of experiencing, are likely to result in clients following suit and deepen their own process.