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Halperin, G.S. Barber, J.P. (1997). Models of Brief Psychodynamic Therapy: Stanley B. Messer and C. Seth Warren. New York: Guilford, 1995, xy + 374 pp., $37.95. Psychoanal. Psychol., 14(3):435-439.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 14(3):435-439

Models of Brief Psychodynamic Therapy: Stanley B. Messer and C. Seth Warren. New York: Guilford, 1995, xy + 374 pp., $37.95

Review by:
Gregory S. Halperin

Jacques P. Barber, Ph.D.

Why should we review a book on brief psychodynamic therapy (BPT) for Psychoanalytic Psychology? In our modest opinion, there are at least five reasons why such a book would be of interest to analysts and long-term dynamic therapists. First, as a result of high dropout rates, patients are often seen by default, rather than by design (Budman & Gurman, 1988), for brief treatment even when originally embarking on a course of open-ended therapy. Second, the argument may be made that although the techniques may be presented within different time constraints, many of the ones used by brief psychodynamic therapists are similar, and in some cases identical, to those utilized by analysts. Third, many patients desire improvement more quickly than analysts will promise. Fourth, even if a patient is interested in analysis, current restrictions on payment from managed care providers make it likely that he or she will need to be seen in a time-limited treatment, unless he or she is willing and able to pay for analysis. Finally, a “dose-effect” relation between number of therapy sessions and patient improvement (reviewed in the introductory chapter) indicates that many patients (53%) improve after only 8 sessions and 83% improve after 52 sessions (Howard, Kopta, Krause, & Orlinsky, 1986). Although Howard et al. found that more therapy helps more patients, there is a sharp drop-off in terms of benefit per session after 52 sessions. In light of these factors and findings, learning more about the methods of BPT may help therapists accommodate the wider range of contemporary patients who present for treatment.

Messer and Warren's Models of Brief Psychodynamic Therapy organizes the prevailing models of BPT into a clear and easily comprehended framework.

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