Consumer Reports and the Dodo Bird Verdict for Psychology

The magazine “Consumer Reports,” published by the Consumer’s Union did a study in 1995 about the effectiveness of psychological treatments. Basically, the question was what treatments work? and how well? The study was important enough that the later President of the American Psychological Association (the most prestigious and authoritive society of psychology) enthusiastically endorsed the study.

So, what did the CR study conclude? That psychotherapy does work and does quite well in many measurable respects. Specifically:

  • Long-term treatment was always better than short-term treatment, and the longer, the better.
  • Medication plus psychotherapy was no better than psychotherapy alone.
  • Psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers did equally well in improving the clients condition and outperformed marriage counselors.
  • Family Doctors did well in the short term, but less so in the long term.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous did especially well for alcoholics, and significantly better than mental health professionals.
  • Clients that were active participants in selecting the therapy and therapist did much better than passive recipients.
  • No specific modality of treatment did better than others. This should not be the case if the treatments from efficacy studies actually did perform better than other treatments. This is the famous Dodo Bird Verdict from Alice in Wonderland, where the dodo bird declared that everyone had won the caucus race and everyone must have prizes
  • Clients that were limited to a fixed number of sessions by insurance providers did worse than clients who continued to receive treatment.

This is quite a list of results, and is actually good news for the ability to measure the results of therapist practitioners in the real-world. Of special note, however, is that no grand theory of psychology was actually better than any other: The dodo bird verdict! And that includes phychoanalysis, cognitive, behavioral, or any other grand theory.

Your lesson from this? Pick a therapist that you like. Ask about how well they are at making real changes in their clients. Stick with them. And above all, do not go to a therapist because your employer or insurance company will pay for a limited number of sessions!

My personal and professional opinion is that hypnosis, especially the excellent therapies derived from Tad James’ Time-line Therapy(tm) are the most effective, like my own The Celarien Experience®. It can be very rapid and well worth researching. Check it out.

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