DOI: 10.1002/aps.1847 ISSN: 1742-3341

The Melbourne Study of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy low‐cost clinic I: Implementation, mental health and life functioning gains

Suzanne Dean, Bruce Tonge, Jeanette Beaufoy, Celia Godfrey, Jacqueline Grady, Jill Pullen, Sarina Smale, Christine Hill, Gavin Ivey, John Taffe
  • General Psychology


The Melbourne Study of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy examined the implementation, lived experience, and perceived therapeutic gains of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in a low‐cost, private‐sector community clinic. A first in Australia, this 8‐year demonstration project allowed naturalistic study of the impact and process of intensive, long‐term, time‐limited psychoanalytic psychotherapy delivered to self‐referred adults by clinicians with a common theoretical frame of practice. Presented in three papers, the research employed the RE‐AIM planning and evaluation framework, using complementary quantitative and qualitative methods, to study the psychotherapy service in terms of Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance. This first paper reports the Reach of the program to be 67% for those presenting for assessment for psychoanalytic psychotherapy, with Adoption of the full 2‐year treatment program being 60%. Improvements in mental health and life functioning provided quantitative evidence of Effectiveness for those completing the 2‐year treatment program, with Maintenance at 8‐month follow‐up. Patient age, gender and personality characteristics did not modify these improvements. In‐depth qualitative exploration of patient and psychotherapist perspectives regarding the psychotherapy is reported in the second paper highlighting expectations, experience and benefits of the psychotherapy. The third companion paper presents the qualitative findings concerning factors experienced as facilitating or challenging therapeutic progress. Each of the three related papers amplifies understandings of how low‐cost, long‐term but time‐limited psychoanalytic psychotherapy can be implemented in the community with adults otherwise unable to afford such treatment, and discusses lessons learned.

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