May 1984

A Comparative Outcome Study of Individual, Group, and Conjoint Psychotherapy

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr Lewis is now with Auburn (Ala) University, and Mr Rubinsky is now with Equibank, Pittsburgh.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1984;41(5):431-437. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1984.01790160017001

• Sixty-four outpatients were assigned to individual, group, or conjoint psychotherapy with experienced private clinicians. The length of the treatments ("cognitive insight" or "affective insight" therapies) averaged 26.8 sessions. To examine comparative outcomes, patients and significant others were assessed on both general outcome measures (eg, symptoms, target complaints) and mode-specific indexes (eg, private selfawareness, interpersonal functioning, and family environment). The most notable finding was the significant improvement of the sample as a whole at both termination and follow-up (average, 31 weeks). When differential outcomes did appear, they were more often attributable to differences among therapists and to interactive effects (ie, a particular fit between specific patient characteristics and a specific mode of therapy) than to main effects for any single therapy. The findings also demonstrated the importance of a systems approach to understanding fully the effects of psychotherapy because the patient's view of the family, the significant other's view of the patient, and the significant other's own adjustment tended to vary together, regardless of the mode of treatment.