Episode 184 - Does Analysis Work? A Conversation with Jonathan Shedler, PhD

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“Talk is powerful medicine.” Renowned researcher and clinician Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D., joins us to discuss the effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy. While so-called evidence-based therapies—brief treatments conducted by instruction manuals—offer benefits for some, their status as the “gold standard” of treatment for mental distress is undeserved.

Dr. Shedler’s 2010 paper, “The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy,” is the most widely read psychoanalytic paper of our time. It’s been downloaded more than a quarter of a million times and has been cited by thousands. He discusses this influential work with us, including the finding that those who engage in psychodynamic psychotherapy not only improve by the end of treatment but continue to make gains even years after therapy is finished. According to Shedler, “psychodynamic therapy sets in motion psychological processes that lead to ongoing change, even after therapy has ended.” Jung tells us that we don’t solve our problems so much as grow larger than them. There is good empirical evidence that psychodynamic psychotherapy does indeed help us to grow.

Here’s the dream we analyze:

“I am in a snowy place with my mom. We are leaving one chalet to go to a different one to meet up with other family members. While packing up to leave, I am preoccupied with a lost sweater. My mom is angry at me for wasting time. I love the sweater; it’s beautiful, and I wanted it for a long time before I got it. I gradually accept that the sweater is now gone, but I’m really sad about it. Then we get into the car. We are both in the back seat of the car talking to each other, and it takes a few minutes before we realize that the car is driving itself. I am not bothered by this; I seem to intuit that the car will take us to the right place, or at least that it knows where it’s going. But my mom is once again angry at me for not driving it. I cannot drive it because my leg is injured. It is this anger--as she realizes that I’m not driving the car--that seems to make the car stop, and then we are stranded in the middle of the road.”

RESOURCES:

Dr. Shedler’s website

Seven Principles of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (video)

That was then, this is now: An introduction to contemporary psychodynamic therapy

The tyranny of time: How long does effective therapy really take?

The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Follow Dr. Shedler on Twitter

Learn to analyze your dreams at Dream School

195 episodes