A systematic review of psychotherapy research topics (2000-2016): a computer-assisted approach

  • Alessandro Gennaro | a.gennaro@uniroma1.it Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, La Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.
  • Omar C. G. Gelo Department of History, Social Society and Human Studies, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy; Faculty of Psychotherapy Science, Sigmund Freud University, Vienna, Austria.
  • Gloria Lagetto Department of History, Social Society and Human Studies, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy.
  • Sergio Salvatore Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, La Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Abstract

The present work aims to empirically map what has been investigated and which issues (i.e. topics) characterize the debates of psychotherapy research, using a computer-assisted, bottom-up method of content analysis. The abstract of papers (N=13,499), published between 2000-2016 and retrieved from a sample of 10 journals selected as representing the field of psychotherapy research, were subjected to a method of automated content analysis. Five different research topics were identified (clinical relationship, clinical efficacy, clinical practice and research, psychopathology, and neuroscientific approaches to mental disorders) and each abstract was labeled according to the retrieved research topic. Two different Chi-square analyses investigated the distributions of research topics over time and among the selected journals. Results concerning the distribution over time highlighted an increase in the clinical relationship and clinical efficacy topics and a decrease in the others. An examination of the distribution among journals showed that psychopathology and neuroscientific approaches to mental disorders were associated with psychiatric journals, while the others were associated with non-psychiatric journals. The findings are discussed in light of the theoretical, methodological, and practical implications offering pointers for a critical understanding of the current psychotherapy research domain.

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Published
2019-12-20
Section
Reviews
Keywords:
Psychotherapy research; Research topic; Literature review; Content analysis
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How to Cite
Gennaro, A., Gelo, O., Lagetto, G., & Salvatore, S. (2019). A systematic review of psychotherapy research topics (2000-2016): a computer-assisted approach. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 22(3). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2019.429