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Wallerstein, R.S. (1994). Psychotherapy Research and Its Implications for a Theory of Therapeutic Change: A Forty-Year Overview. Psychoanal. St. Child, 49:120-141.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 49:120-141

Psychotherapy Research and Its Implications for a Theory of Therapeutic Change: A Forty-Year Overview

Robert S. Wallerstein, M.D.

The Psychotherapy Research Project of The Menninger Foundation was started in the early 1950s, with the goal of learning more about what changes occur in psychoanalytic therapies (outcome) and how those changes come about (process). The principal findings were that psychoanalyses and psychoanalytic psychotherapies alike consistently were modified in a supportive direction, that more of the achieved changes

were based on the operation of supportive mechanisms than was anticipated, and that, in many instances, the kinds of change achieved on the basis of these supportive mechanisms were indistinguishable from those that came about through the interpretive resolution of intrapsychic conflict. The final clinical accounting of PRP, Forty-Two Lives in Treatment, was published in 1986 and included follow-ups for up to thirty years. A successor project, PRP-II, was started at the Langley Porter Institute in the mid-1980s and is ongoing. It is an effort to pursue the findings and conclusions of PRP by defining in more precise operational terms the concepts of psychic structure and structural change and then linking attained structural changes to the mechanisms, supportive or interpretive-expressive, by which they have come about. Scales of Psychological Capacities is a research instrument devised to reflect underlying structure and structural change.

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