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Westenberger-Breuer, H. (2007). The Goals of Psychoanalytic Treatment: Conceptual Considerations and Follow-up Interview Evaluation with a Former Analysand. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 88(2):475-488.

(2007). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 88(2):475-488


The Goals of Psychoanalytic Treatment: Conceptual Considerations and Follow-up Interview Evaluation with a Former Analysand

Heike Westenberger-Breuer

There has been a long, ongoing discussion of goals in psychoanalytic treatment. Some analysts are even of the opinion that psychoanalysis ought to be goalless (‘just analysing’). The growing number of outcome studies, however, is in need of a generally accepted set of criteria by which treatment results can be judged. The author proposes a definition of the goals of psychoanalysis that covers four areas: the alleviation of symptoms and complaints, changes in life adjustment, changes in personality structure, and procedural goals such as the resolution of the transference neurosis. She illustrates the relevance of this conceptualization by an empirical study that considers the assessments of 19 psychoanalysts discussing statements made by a former patient about her analytic treatment. On the basis of this case, which comes from the follow-up study of the DPV (German Psychoanalytical Society), reported by Leuzinger-Bohleber et al. in 2002, the author demonstrates that psychoanalysts use the criteria defined above implicitly in forming their opinions. Moreover, they arrived at similar judgements regarding the treatment's outcome.

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