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Busch, F.N., Milrod, B.L., Sandberg, L.S. (2009). A Study Demonstrating Efficacy of a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for Panic Disorder: Implications for Psychoanalytic Research, Theory, and Practice. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 57:131-148.

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(2009). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 57(1):131-148

Research Section

A Study Demonstrating Efficacy of a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for Panic Disorder: Implications for Psychoanalytic Research, Theory, and Practice

Fredric N. Busch, Barbara L. Milrod and Larry S. Sandberg

Systematic research on psychoanalytic treatments has been limited by several factors, including a belief that clinical experience can demonstrate the effectiveness of psychoanalysis, rendering systematic research unnecessary, the view that psychoanalytic research would be difficult or impossible to accomplish, and a concern that research would distort the treatment being delivered. In recent years, however, many psychoanalysts have recognized the necessity of research in order to obtain a more balanced assessment of the role of psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis in a contemporary treatment armamentarium, as well as to allow appropriate evaluation and potentially greater acceptance by the broader mental health and medical communities. In this context, studies were conducted of a psychodynamic treatment, Panic-Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (PFPP), initially in an open trial and then in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in comparison with a less active treatment, Applied Relaxation Training (ART; Cerny et al. 1984), for adults with primary DSM-IV panic disorder. The results of the RCT demonstrated the

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This study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (K23-MH01849-01/05. ROI MH070918) and a fund in the New York Community Trust established by DeWitt Wallace. Submitted for publication September 28, 2007.

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efficacy of PFPP in treating panic disorder, and also demonstrated that a psychoanalytic treatment can be systematically evaluated in a mode consistent with the principles of evidence-based medicine. Two specific features of the methodology, the development of the treatment manual and the operationalization of the adherence instrument, both core building blocks of contemporary psychotherapy outcome research, and their implications for psychoanalytic research are discussed in greater depth. The theoretical, clinical, and educational implications of the PFPP studies are elaborated, and suggestions are made for pursuing further outcome research of psychoanalytic treatments.

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