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Is Psychotherapy a Science

Is Psychotherapy a Science

This is a question which has raged in the profession for as long as I have been in it. The question is whether psychotherapy is a science or not. In my opinion psychotherapy is more art than science. Now, there are several reasons for this which I will briefly go into.

Psychotherapy is based on psychotherapeutic constructs which are more philosophical in origin than science. Can psychotherapy be measured scientifically? Yes, but with great difficulty. The reason for this difficulty is that it is very difficult to measure the impact of the therapeutic relationship on the efficacy of the treatment. The relationship is as much about the therapist as the client. How do you measure empathy? This is a question I posed more than 20 years ago and I have yet to be given an answer which is satisfactory as far as replication is concerned.

Does psychotherapy need to be a science? I would argue that it does not. Indeed, being a science or not is not a requisite to evidenced based practice. There needs to be some review of what evidence based means so that it no longer continues to be biased toward Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Instead, it needs to be extended to more types of evidence which could make the provision of psychotherapy in the health service and private sector far more inclusive to client needs rather than therapeutic bias.

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