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Goldberger, L. Reuben, R. Silberschatz, G. (1976). Symptom Removal in Psychotherapy: A Review of the Literature. Psychoanal. Contemp. Sci., 5:513-536.

(1976). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Science, 5:513-536

4 Therapeutic Process and Outcome

Symptom Removal in Psychotherapy: A Review of the Literature

Leo Goldberger, Ph.D., Roger Reuben, M.A. and George Silberschatz, M.A.

In the continuing search for the optimal treatment of specific psychological disturbances, an objective examination of the claims of psychodynamically oriented therapists is of great importance. A review of the psychotherapy outcome literature was undertaken to answer the question: How effective is psychodynamic psychotherapy in the treatment of certain specified disorders as judged by the criterion of symptom removal?

The sharpest criticism of psychodynamically oriented therapy has long come from the behavior therapists. But these two contending schools of thought have largely ignored each other's writings, and only rarely have they addressed themselves to identical issues in therapy research. Where the behavior therapist focuses explicitly on symptom removal as the criterion of the success of a given treatment, the criterion of the psychotherapist (insight or analytically oriented) is a more global “resolution of personality problems.” These differing perspectives are of course of a fundamental nature, since they grow out of two quite different theories of psychopathology. Nevertheless, one might expect past research to shed some light on the effectiveness of psychotherapy in removing symptoms.

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