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CLINICAL SYNTHESIS   |    
What is Supportive Psychotherapy?
John C. Markowitz, M.D.
FOCUS 2014;12:285-289. doi:10.1176/appi.focus.12.3.285
View Author and Article Information

Author Information and Disclosure

John C. Markowitz, M.D., Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons; Research Psychiatrist, New York State Psychiatric Institute New York, NY

The author reports no competing interests.

Dr. Markowitz was supported in part by grant MH079078 from the National Institute of Mental Health and by New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Address correspondence to: John C. Markowitz, M.D., New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Dr., Unit #129, New York, NY 10032; e-mail: jcm42@columbia.edu

Abstract

This article reviews the meaning, use, and utility of supportive psychotherapy, a widespread treatment with an undeservedly malign birthright and history. This entails sorting through the historical definitions of supportive therapy and reviewing its good research track record achieved despite being the comparison condition. The author then defines brief supportive psychotherapy (BSP), a manualized, “common factors” treatment that has fared well in research settings, which may provide a model for clinical and research use in the future.

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Table 1.“Common Factors” of Psychotherapya
Table Footer Note

a Based on Frank and Frank (6).

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Table 2. Do’s and Dont’s of Brief Supportive Psychotherapy
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Table 3.Brief Supportive Psychotherapy Adherence Items
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CME Activity

Add a subscription to complete this activity and earn CME credit.
Sample questions:
1.
Which of the following best represents the role of psychotherapy in the treatment of bipolar disorder?

See Swartz and Swanson; Results, p 252
2.
An evidence-based psychotherapy that has not been tested as treatment for individuals with bipolar disorder is which of the following:

See Swartz and Swanson; Table 2: Description of Evidence-Based, Bipolar Specific Psychotherapies, p 259
3.
How does psychopathology develop within the framework of metacognitive theory?

See Mundy and Hofmann; Meta-Cognitive Therapy, p 267
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