Research Center

The Psychotherapy Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital was formed in 1999 to study the process and outcome of psychotherapy empirically.

Current Research

Empirical Validation of Change Processes in Long term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy:
The purpose of this study was to examine process correlates of outcome in a two-year videotaped psychotherapy using the Psychotherapy Process Q-set and a variety of outcome measures.

The Effect of the Couch on Psychoanalytic Process: The First Empirical Study:
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect that the classic psychoanalytic position of lying down vs. sitting up has on the psychotherapeutic process.

Neural Correlates of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Depression:
This study was designed to investigate the neural correlates of therapeutic change in short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy. It will provide preliminary information about the utility of QEEG and PET as predictors of response in psychotherapy, and will furnish the knowledge base of QEEG changes related to clinical variables.

Empathy Training Modules to Enhance Resident Physician Communication in Patient Care Delivery, Healthcare Systems, and Supervision:
The purpose of this research study is to test the efficacy of empathy training modules developed to increase empathic and communication skills among doctor and patient; doctor and patient family; supervisor and resident physician; and attending physician and colleagues.

Longitudinal Study of Physiologic Concordance, Alliance, and Empathy during Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Depression:
The purpose of this project was to examine the physiologic concordance or discordance between patient and therapist over time, and to determine how changes in the physiologic relationship are related to the development of the therapeutic alliance, the patient’s perception of therapist empathy, and outcome in depression.

Patient Variables and Placebo Response in Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
This research project involved intensive study of the videotaped interactions between acupuncturists and their patients during both placebo and genuine acupuncture treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We were interested in determining whether the same sorts of interpersonal processes that occur in psychotherapy also occur to some extent in other forms of treatment, and in identifying the particular aspects of the patient-practitioner relationship that are most important for producing positive treatment outcomes, both in placebo and genuine treatment.Enhancing the Placebo Effect in Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
This study sought determine whether placebo effects in the treatment IBS could be manipulated like "dose dependence" in drug studies by varying the quantity and quality of the doctor-patient interaction. It also investigated the efficacy of true acupuncture as compared to placebo acupuncture.Reliability of the Placebo Effect in Asthma:
The purpose of this study is to investigate whether the placebo response in asthma is reliable across repeated administrations of a placebo, and consistent across different types of placebos. It is also to identify the characteristics of reliable and consistent placebo responders.

Research at Mass General

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