Long-Term Comparison of Brief Versus Unlimited Psychodynamic Treatments With Children and Their Parents

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Thirty children and their parents were assigned randomly to either time-unlimited or time-limited (12 sessions) psychodynamically oriented treatments or to a minimal-contact control group. All groups showed significant improvements from pretest to posttest. Comparisons between groups at posttest on parental measures of family functioning showed that changes reported by the minimal-contact control group were significantly greater than those of the time-unlimited group. When assessments from pretest to 4-year follow-up were compared, all groups improved significantly on therapist measures of goal attainment, but only the minimal-contact control group reported significant improvements on severity of target problems and measures of family functioning. The results of this study suggest that long-term therapy does not necessarily provide more effective therapy. These findings have important implications for clinical practice, service delivery, and research, particularly in the present climate of financial restraint in health care.

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