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Effectiveness of Treatment

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Specific Disorder Most Effective Treatment
Panic disorders Cognitive therapy
Specific phobias Systematic desensitization
Obsessive-compulsive disorder Behavior therapy or medication
Depression Cognitive therapy
Post–traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia Exposure treatment

Who Benefits from Treatment?

Clients who are likely to benefit from therapy share some common features:

  • Motivation to get better
  • Family support
  • Tendency to deal actively with problems rather than avoid them

Clients who are less likely to benefit from therapy also share some features:

  • Hostility and negativity
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychotic disorders

Can Therapy Be Harmful?

Under some conditions, therapy can be harmful to the client. Clients may be harmed if:

  • Therapists engage in unethical behavior, such as by having sexual relationships with clients
  • Therapists act according to personal prejudices or are ignorant of cultural differences between themselves and their clients
  • Therapists coerce clients into doing things they don’t want to do
  • Therapists use techniques that research has not demonstrated as being effective
  • Therapists lead their clients to produce false memories of past traumas through careless use of techniques such as hypnosis or free association