Back in April, I blogged about an article that appeared in The Guardian, one of the U.K.’s largest daily newspapers. Citing a single study published in Denmark, the authors boldly asserted, “The claim that all forms of psychotherapy are winners has been dealt a blow.” Sure enough, that one study comparing CBT to psychoanalysis, found that CBT resulted in superior effects in the treatment of bulimia.
As I pointed out at the time, I was surprised that such an obscure research finding would be covered by a major newspaper. “What could be the point?” I wondered–that is, until I saw who had written the piece. The authors were none other than psychologist Daniel Freemen, a strong proponent of the idea that certain treatments are better than others, and his journalist brother, Jason.
I have to admit, I suspected an agenda was at work. After all, scientists have learned not to depend on extraordinary findings from single studies. Replication is key to separating fact from hopeful fiction. In the service of this objective, I cited a truly massive study published in Clinical Psychology Review. Using the statistically rigorous method of meta-analysis, researchers reviewed results from 53 studies of psychological treatments for eating disorders. The result? No difference in effect between competing therapeutic approaches–a result confirming 50 years of robust research. Why hadn’t this particular study been cited? After all, it was available at the time the two brothers wrote their piece.
Fast forward six months. Another study from Denmark has been published, this one comparing two treatments for sexual abuse. The results? Both treatments worked and gains were maintained at 1 year follow up. What’s more, consistent with the much-maligned “Dodo verdict,” no differences in outcome were found between analytic and systemic treatment approaches.
So far, no article from the Freemans.