Distinctive Features of Short-Term Psychodynamic-Interpersonal Psychotherapy: A Review of the Comparative Psychotherapy Process Literature


Address correspondence to Matthew D. Blagys, M.A., Department of Psychology, University of Arkansas, 316 Memorial Hall, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701. Electronic mail may be sent to mblagys@comp.uark.edu


The present article is a review of the comparative psychotherapy process literature. It is an effort to delineate techniques and processes that distinguish two prominent forms of treatment. Seven interventions stood out as distinguishing psychodynamic-interpersonal therapy from cognitive-behavioral treatment: (1) a focus on affect and the expression of patients’ emotions; (2) an exploration of patients’ attempts to avoid topics or engage in activities that hinder the progress of therapy; (3) the identification of patterns in patients’ actions, thoughts, feelings, experiences, and relationships; (4) an emphasis on past experiences; (5) a focus on a patients’ interpersonal experiences; (6) an emphasis on the therapeutic relationship; and (7) an exploration of patients’ wishes, dreams, or fantasies. A better understanding of the specific techniques and processes that distinguish psychodynamic-interpersonal from cognitive-behavioral therapy can facilitate process-outcome research, aid in the training and teaching of psychodynamic-interpersonal psychotherapy, and provide psychodynamic-interpersonal therapists with a guide for session activity.