Psychotherapy for the treatment of depression: A comprehensive review of controlled outcome research


Previous quantitative reviews of research on the efficacy of psychotherapy for depression have included only a subset of the available research or limited their focus to a single outcome measure. The present review offers a more comprehensive quantitative integration of this literature. Using studies that compared psychotherapy with either no treatment or another form of treatment, this article assesses (a) the overall effectiveness of psychotherapy for depressed clients, (b) its effectiveness relative to pharmacotherapy, and (c) the clinical significance of treatment outcomes. Findings from the review confirm that depressed clients benefit substantially from psychotherapy, and these gains appear comparable to those observed with pharmacotherapy. Initial analysis suggested some differences in the efficacy of various types of treatment; however, once the influence of investigator allegiance was removed, there remained no evidence for the relative superiority of any 1 approach. In view of these results, the focus of future research should be less on differentiating among psychotherapies for depression than on identifying the factors responsible for improvement.

Publication Title

Psychological Bulletin