February 1979

Which Short-term Therapy?Matching Patient and Method

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; the Massachusetts General Hospital (Dr Burke), and the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (Drs White and Havens), Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(2):177-186. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780020067007

• In recent years, numerous forms of short-term psychotherapy have been developed, without clear guidelines for choosing among them. There are three major approaches in terms of both their techniques and their criteria for patient selection. The "interpretive" method stresses the use of insight produced by a therapist's interpretations, the "existential," the maturational effect of a brief empathic encounter with the therapist, and the "corrective," the behavioral changes resulting from patient management by the therapist.

The question facing a short-term therapist is how to choose a particular method for a particular patient. A framework is proposed based on developmental phases of adult life to help therapists match patient and method.