A Meta-Analysis of Personalized Treatment Goals in Psychotherapy: A Preliminary Report and Call for More Studies

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore the hypothesis that psychotherapy has larger effect sizes for personalized treatment goals than for symptom checklists. We conducted a meta-analysis of clinical trials that measured treatment success in terms ofbothsymptom checklists and personalized treatment goals. Our search of the literature yielded 12 studies that met our inclusion criteria. Effect sizes were substantially larger for personalized treatment goals (ES = .86,p< .0001) than for symptom checklists (ES = .32,p= .003). The magnitude of this difference was significant (p< .05). Our results suggest that psychotherapy is perhaps more effective in helping patients with individual goals than reducing scores on broad measures of symptoms. Estimates of the effectiveness of psychotherapy that are based on symptom checklists perhaps underestimate the true benefit of psychotherapy. We discuss the implications for research and clinical practice.

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