Implementing panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy into clinical practice.

Beutel, M., Scheurich, V., Knebel, A., Michal, M., Wiltink, J., Graf-Morgenstern, M., . . . Subic-Wrana, C. (2013). Implementing panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy into clinical practice. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 58(6), 326-334.


To determine the effectiveness of manualized panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy (PFPP) in routine care in Germany.


German psychoanalysts were trained according to the PFPP manual. Fifty-four consecutive outpatients with panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia) were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to PFPP or cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) plus exposure therapy. Subjects (female 57.4%; mean age 36.2 years) had high rates of psychiatric (68.5%) and somatic (64.8%) comorbidity, and previous psychiatric treatments (57.4%). Assessments were performed pre- and posttreatment and at 6-month follow-up. The primary outcome measure was the Panic Disorder Severity Scale.


Both treatments were highly effective. In patients randomized to PFPP, remission was achieved in 44.4% at termination and by 50% at follow-up (CBT 61.1% and 55.6%, respectively). No significant differences were found. Emotional awareness, a posited moderator of good outcome in psychotherapies, was significantly higher in the CBT group at baseline. It was found to be a strong moderator of treatment effectiveness in both treatments. After adjusting for initial Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS) scores, effect sizes (ESs) for the primary outcome were Cohen d = 1.28, from pre- to posttreatment, and d = 1.03, from pretreatment to follow-up, for PFPP, and d = 1.81 and 1.28 for CBT, respectively.


PFPP was implemented effectively into clinical practice by psychoanalysts in the community in a sample with severe mental illness with large ESs. Assessment of LEAS may facilitate the identification of patients suitable for short-term psychotherapy. (Clinical Trial Registration Number: German Clinical Trials Register, DRKS00000245; Universal Trial Number, U1111-1112-4245).


Prof. Dr. M. Beutel

Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Medical Centre, Mainz, Germany.