Social functioning of patients with psychotic disorders in long-term psychodynamic group psychotherapy: preliminary research
In recent years, social functioning of patients has increasingly been used as a criterion for assessing therapeutic efficacy of the group psychotherapy. The purpose of this preliminary study was to examine whether social functioning of patients with diagnosed psychotic disorders changes during their participation in psychodynamic group psychotherapy.
Subject and methods:
The sample consisted of 30 patients involved in the psychodynamic group psychotherapy (PGP), and a comparative group of 30 patients treated only with antipsychotic medication therapy (treatment as usual; TAU). After two years of therapy, the instruments designed for this study (self-assessment and therapist-assessment questionnaire) were applied to examine changes in patient communication in their interpersonal relations, romantic and working functioning, and overall social functioning. The research also included data as to whom patients turned to for help, and the number of hospitalisations in the observed period.
The majority of patients from both groups assessed their social functioning as improved, with significant differences found only in the area of romantic relations: more patients in the TAU group assessed their functioning as worsened. Nevertheless, a significantly higher number of patients in the PGP group were assessed by their therapists to have improved social functioning in all dimensions, except in the area of romantic relations, where there was no statistically significant difference between the groups. In comparison with the TAU group, twice as many patients in the PGP group turned to their psychiatrist for help and had four times fewer hospitalisations.
Considering the limitations of this preliminary study, it can be concluded that the findings are promising, although further research is required to determine whether a psychodynamic approach to group psychotherapy truly leads to improved social functioning of patients with psychotic disorders.