On Possible Consequences of National Institute of Mental Health Funding for Psychotherapy Research and Training

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Abstract

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has changed its funding priorities for psychotherapy-related research. With the introduction of Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), the focus has moved away from supporting randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to an emphasis on gathering primarily neurobiological data that are associated with observable and dimensionalized psychological problems, even as they occur across diagnostic categories. Among the general domains that are to be funded are negative and positive valence systems, cognitive systems, social processes, and arousal and regulatory systems. Moreover, each domain will be studied at different levels of analysis, such as genetic, molecular, neural circuitry, physiological, and behavioral. Offering an overview of the history of psychotherapy research and its funding as an historical context, this article discusses some of the implications of this shifting model, and considers the potential impact the current NIMH funding priorities may have on therapy-related research, the development of psychoactive medications, and the training of clinical psychologists as therapists.

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