The dose response relationship in psychotherapy: Implications for social policy

Harnett, Paul, O'Donovan, Analise and Lambert, Michael J. (2010) The dose response relationship in psychotherapy: Implications for social policy. Clinical Psychologist, 14 2: 39-44. doi:10.1080/13284207.2010.500309

Author Harnett, Paul
O'Donovan, Analise
Lambert, Michael J.
Title The dose response relationship in psychotherapy: Implications for social policy
Journal name Clinical Psychologist   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1328-4207
Publication date 2010-07-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/13284207.2010.500309
Volume 14
Issue 2
Start page 39
End page 44
Total pages 6
Editor Tracey Wade
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxfordshire, U.K.
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The principle aim of this study was to estimate the number of sessions of psychotherapy needed for clients suffering from psychiatric illness to return to a normal state of functioning or reliably improve. This would be helpful for treatment planning and policy decisions regarding how much therapy is enough. The progress of 125 clients entering psychological treatment in two university training clinics was tracked on a session-by-session basis using a naturalistic design. Recovery and reliable improvement were the bi-nomial events of interest used in a survival analysis that estimated the number of weekly treatment sessions needed to meet criteria. Using survival analysis it was estimated that it would take about 8 sessions for 50% of clients to show reliable improvement and 21 sessions for about 85% to meet this criterion. Recovery took more treatment, with 50% of clients estimated to recover after 14 sessions and 70% requiring 23. On the basis of the present results we conclude that the present policy of the Australian Government in both the public and private sector regarding the number of sessions needed for clients entering psychological treatments to show a benefit is much less than is, in fact, necessary. The findings of the current study are roughly consistent with those found elsewhere and suggest a minimum benefit should be closer to 20 sessions. The current policy appears to be suitable for only about one-third of clients who carry the burden of psychological illness.
Keyword Psychotherapy outcome
Dose response
Effects of psychotherapy
Psychological treatment
Survival analysis
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 16 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 17 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 15 Mar 2011, 03:57:00 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology