Psychotherapy is a Clinical Science

The Adaptive Mind lecture series in 2022 is opened by Alexander von Humboldt Prof. Stefan G. Hofmann with his talk "Psychotherapy is a Clinical Science" on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 at 4 pm.

The talk is online.

Abstract: The most important development in psychotherapy research over the last 50 years has been cognitive behavioral therapy. During this time, a large number of different therapy brands and treatment protocols have been developed for the various DSM and ICD-defined syndromes. Despite the great number of clinical studies, treatment success has been limited and no substantial improvement has been made to understand and improve the processes of treatment change. Recently, new insights from neuroscience has been reported and a new generation of evidence-based care has begun to move toward process-based therapies to target core processes based on testable theories. In this presentation, I will provide an overview over these exciting new developments. These approaches improve upon existing treatments by offering strategies to: (1) augment learning through pharmacological agents, (2) predict treatment outcome with neuromarkers, and (3) enhance specific treatment processes. I will then present a new approach, called Process-based Therapy, which is built on evolutionary science and that views an individual's mental health problems as a complex network. Psychopathology is conceived as maladaptation of this network due to unhealthy variation, selection, and retention of psychobiosocial processes. Effective therapy perturbates this maladaptive network with the goal to create a sustainable alternative adaptive network. This can be accomplished most effectively by focusing on treatment processes. The new paradigm might initiate a fundamental shift toward clinical translational research and away from a latent disease model. In fact, I believe this paradigm shift is always underway.