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Is Psychotherapy Science

Is Psychotherapy Science

This is a topic which comes up regularly on my training weekends, so I thought it might be interesting to air it out here. There are some in the psychotherapeutic community which hold to the idea that psychotherapy is a science. Whilst there can be no doubt that psychotherapy can and indeed should be informed by scientific research the question remains does this make psychotherapy a science.

There have been many advances in the study of the brain in neuroscience and neuropsychology, these advances do certainly have a part to play in how we understand the workings of the brain and therefore the mind. However, the delivery and provision of psychotherapy is not strictly scientific. If it is anything at all it is more artistic, in that each therapist has a way of delivering psychotherapy which is unique to them. Hence why psychotherapy does not do well in the traditional modes of assessment when it comes to matters like evidenced based research. There are factors which a therapist brings to the therapeutic relationship which are not easily assessed or indeed even measured. This does not mean that psychotherapy is not evidenced based, it simply means that the definition which suits CBT particularly needs to be re-evaluated when it comes to questions of efficacy and funding. Simply calling all psychotherapy scientific does not answer the very real questions as to how psychological therapies are assessed when it comes to questions of efficacy and evidence.

So in a nutshell, no psychotherapy is not a science, but it is and should be informed by advances in science.

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