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Let’s Distinguish Relative and Absolute Efficacy to Move Psychotherapy Research Forward

Summary

Objective: Background regarding a recent debate between Cuijpers et al. (2019a, b) and the authors (Munder et al. 2019) about the efficacy of psychotherapy for depression is given.

Method: A main reason for the discrepancy in Cuijpers et al.’s and our conclusions is discussed.

Results: In our view the discrepancy is due, among other things, to a blurred distinction between questions of relative and absolute efficacy of psychotherapy. Although the efficacy of psychotherapy vis-à-vis alternative treatments may be ambiguous, there can be little doubt about the benefits of psychotherapy relative to no treatment.

Conclusion: We do not think that raising fundamental concerns about the value of psychotherapy is a service to the field. We argue that moving the field forward requires a focus on how psychotherapy works and how the access to psychotherapy can be increased.

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