Summary of “Therapy wars: The Revenge of Freud”

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a down-to-earth technique focused not on the past but the present; not on mysterious inner drives, but on adjusting the unhelpful thought patterns that cause negative emotions.
CBT has always had its critics, primarily on the left, because its cheapness – and its focus on getting people quickly back to productive work – makes it suspiciously attractive to cost-cutting politicians.
Seek a therapy referral on the NHS today, and you’re much more likely to end up, not in anything resembling psychoanalysis, but in a short series of highly structured meetings with a CBT practitioner, or perhaps learning methods to interrupt your “Catastrophising” thinking via a PowerPoint presentation, or online.
The analysts’ arguments fell on deaf ears so long as experiment after experiment seemed to confirm the superiority of CBT – which helps explain the shocked response to a study, published last May, that seemed to show CBT getting less and less effective, as a treatment for depression, over time.
“I went to the early seminars on cognitive therapy to satisfy myself that it was another approach that wouldn’t work,” David Burns, who went on to popularise CBT in his worldwide bestseller Feeling Good, told me in 2010.
A few years ago, after CBT had started to dominate taxpayer-funded therapy in Britain, a woman I’ll call Rachel, from Oxfordshire, sought therapy on the NHS for depression, following the birth of her first child.
Some studies have sometimes seemed to unfairly stack the deck, as when CBT has been compared with “Psychodynamic therapy” delivered by graduate students who’d received only a few days’ cursory training in it, from other students.
“People who say CBT is superficial have just missed the point,” said Trudie Chalder, professor of cognitive behavioural psychotherapy at the King’s College Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience in London, who argues that no single therapy is best for all maladies.

The orginal article.