Dyk #7: Which works better, standardized or individualized therapy?
Did you know…
That people generally react better to standardized therapy than to a therapy customized to their needs and problems?
In 1996, Dietmar Schulte, a German researcher, decided he wanted to find out whether people react bettter to standardized or individualized therapy. Then (and even now), therapist were convinced that the more individualized the therapy was, the more effect it would have.
Schulte made three groups of people with different kinds of phobias (mainly agoraphobia – the fear of having a panic attack in public): group 1, in which the clients would get standardized therapy, group 2, where the clients would get individualized therapy (taking marital problems, co-morbid disorders and other issues into the equation), and the people in group 3 would get a randomly assigned individualized therapy from one of the people in group 2.
Surprisingly, those in group 1 showed the best results, where 66,6% was cured, and 33,4% showed significant improvement. In group 2, only 39,4% was cured, but 57,6% showed improvement. 3%, however, showed no improvement at all.
Even more surprising were the results of therapy in group 3. A stunning 44,4% was cured, 41,2% showed improvement and 14,7% showed no improvement at all. Note that this is the group where they got therapy that was individualized for others.
Schulte concluded that standardized therapy should be used at all times. Individualization should still remain to be important as well, but only for the primary task of the therapist: motivating the patient for the therapy, as this is a condition for the success of the therapy.
In The Netherlands (and probably also in the US), discussion is still ongoing on whether they should standardize therapy or not, because therapists are still convinced that individualized therapy is better. Schulte’s research has been replicated many times and all showed similar results.
Schulte, D. (1996) Tailor-made and standardized therapy: Complementary tasks in behavior therapy a contrarian view. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Volume 27, Issue 2, 119-126.