Short-Term Psychodynamic Therapy for Depression

Status: Modest Research Support


In general, brief dynamic therapies for depression focus on increasing patients' awareness and insight about problematic patterns and core relational themes related to depression. Different types of psychodynamic therapy have been studied in clinical trials, but all do not use treatment manuals and some of the therapies are not designed specifically to treat depression. However, data are accumulating to suggest that short-term therapies in this class are efficacious. Some common themes across the different forms of brief dynamic therapy for depression include a focus on: 1) how past experiences influence current functioning, 2) affect and the expression of emotion, 3) the therapeutic relationship, 4) facilitation of insight, 5) avoidance of uncomfortable topics, and 6) the identification of core conflictual relationship themes. Therapy is time-limited and includes approximately 16 to 20 sessions. These therapies have also been developed for geriatric populations.

Key References (in reverse chronological order)

Clinical Resources

Geriatric Depression (brief dynamic therapy principles used in clinical trials)

Training Opportunities

Resources for training in Supportive-Expressive Therapy for Depression can be found at the Center for Psychotherapy Research at the University of Pennsylvania (Dr. Paul Crits-Critstoph and Jacques Barber).