Psychodynamic techniques related to outcome for anxiety disorder patients at different points in treatment

Seth Pitman, Jenelle Slavin-Mulford, Mark Hilsenroth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Although psychodynamic therapy has a well-articulated model of therapeutic change for anxiety, few empirical studies have examined specific treatment interventions related to symptom improvement. We examined the degree of adherence to a psychodynamic model of therapy (Blagys and Hilsenroth [Clin Psychol 7:167-188, 2000) related to changes in anxiety symptoms across early treatment process. Secondary analyses also examined the use of specific psychodynamic techniques across early treatment process in relation to symptom change. The current study sought to extend the findings of , who found a relationship between the use of psychodynamic techniques in the third session (independent clinical ratings) and reduction in anxiety symptoms at posttreatment (r = 0.46, p = 0.04). Using the same sample of anxiety disorder patients (N = 20), we found a significant relationship between psychodynamic technique and posttreatment change in anxiety symptoms at the ninth session (r = 0.49, p = 0.03) and the mean levels of psychodynamic technique across both third and ninth sessions (r = 0.53, p = 0.02). In addition, specific psychodynamic techniques demonstrated significant relationships or moderate to large effects with posttreatment changes in anxiety symptoms at the third and ninth sessions as well as mean ratings across early treatment (third and ninth sessions). These findings indicate that therapist focus on cyclical intrapersonal patterns in patient actions, feelings, or experience as well as suggestions of alternative ways to understand these experiences or events not previously recognized by the patient (i.e., interpretation) in the early treatment process were particularly helpful in reducing posttreatment anxiety symptoms. Clinical implications and areas for future research will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-396
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • CPPS
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • STPP
  • anxiety
  • technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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