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Is There an Evidence-Based Number of Sessions in Outpatient Psychotherapy? – A Comparison of Naturalistic Conditions across Countries

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author FlückigerChristoph, WampoldBruce E., DelgadilloJaime, RubelJulian, LutzWolfgang,
Project Design development in randomized clinical trials - Psychological treatment in generalized anxiety
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Volume (Issue) 89
Page(s) 333 - 335
Title of proceedings Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
DOI 10.1159/000507793

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


IFP News Section: Deciding on the number of psychotherapy sessions to satisfactorily treat a patient is a vital clinical as well as economic issue in most mental health systems worldwide. The length of outpatient psychotherapy in naturalistic conditions ranges from a single session to hundreds of sessions [1]. In randomized clinical trials, the number of sessions is typically fixed to deliver manualized treatments and to control for dosage effects (e.g., in a 16-session format [2]). Using data from Routine Outcome Monitoring studies [3, 4], we investigated whether the treatments under naturalistic conditions were fixed to a particular number of sessions or not (H1), whether naturalistic conditions tended to include unusually long treatments (e.g., >100 sessions) (H2), and how the observed number of sessions was distributed across countries (H3).