July 1973

Peer-Observed Psychotherapy With Institutionalized Narcotic Addicts

Author Affiliations

Lexington, Ky
From the National Institute of Mental Health, Clinical Research Center, Lexington, Ky.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(1):51-53. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200010032006

Traditional group and individual psychotherapy with narcotic addicts has many shortcomings and has shown no large-scale effectiveness. Psychotherapy alone is probably insufficient to treat the difficult problem of addiction, and the biological and social implications must not be overlooked. Nevertheless, more effective forms of psychotherapy should be sought.

The method advocated here involves individual psychotherapy sessions conducted before observing addict peers. These sessions were immediately followed by a period of observer-participant interaction. Empirical observations indicate active involvement and interest on the part of these addicts, evidenced by sincere affective displays, high levels of participation, and increased group cohesiveness. Long-term results are not yet available.