Falk Leichsenring

German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF), Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany

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Publications (118)295.6 Total impact

  • Falk Leichsenring, Simone Salzer
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    ABSTRACT: Although there is evidence for the efficacy of psychodynamic therapy (PDT) in anxiety disorders, results are not yet satisfactory, for example, if rates of remission and response are considered. To address this problem, a unified psychodynamic protocol for anxiety disorders (UPP-ANXIETY) is proposed that integrates the treatment principles of those methods of PDT that have proven to be efficacious in anxiety disorders. In addition, this protocol is transdiagnostic, implying that is it is applicable to various forms of anxiety disorders and related disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorders, avoidant personality disorder). Based on supportive-expressive therapy, the UPP-ANXIETY represents an integrated form of psychodynamic therapy that allows for a flexible use of empirically supported treatment principles. UPP-ANXIETY encompasses the following 9 treatment principles (modules): (1) socializing the patient for psychotherapy, (2) motivating and setting treatment goals, (3) establishing a secure helping alliance, (4) identifying the core conflict underlying anxiety, (5) focusing on the warded-off wish/affect, (6) modifying underlying internalized object relations, (7) changing underlying defenses and avoidance, (8) modifying underlying response of self, and (9) termination and relapse prevention. Some principles are regarded as core components to be used in every treatment (principles 3-8). A unified protocol for the psychodynamic treatment of anxiety disorders has several advantages, that is (1) integrating the most effective treatment principles of empirically supported psychodynamic treatments for anxiety disorders can be expected to further improve the efficacy of PDT; (2) using a unified protocol in efficacy studies has the potential to enhance the evidence-based status of PDT by aggregating the evidence; (3) a unified protocol will facilitate both training in PDT and transfer of research to clinical practice; and (4) thus, a unified protocol can be expected to have a significant impact on the health care system. We are planning to test the UPP-ANXIETY in a multicenter randomized controlled trial. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    Psychotherapy Theory Research Practice Training 12/2013; · 0.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to analyse the psychometric properties of the EQ-5D in patients with social phobia. We used a sample of 445 patients with social phobia with five measurement points over a 30 month period. The discriminative ability of the EQ-5D was analysed by comparing the patients' responses with the general population and between different disease severity levels. For test-retest reliability we assessed the level of agreement in patients' responses over time, when there was no change in the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS). Construct validity was analysed by identifying correlations of the EQ-5D with more specific instruments. For responsiveness we compared the means of EQ VAS/ EQ-5D index anchored on improved (deteriorated) health status and computed effect sizes as well as a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. Compared to the general population, patients with social phobia reported more problems in the dimensions "usual activities", "pain/ discomfort", and "anxiety/ depression" and less problems in "mobility" and "self-care". The EQ-5D was able to distinguish between different disease severity levels. The test-retest reliability was moderate (intraclass correlation coefficient > 0.6). Correlations between the EQ-5D and other instruments were mostly small except for correlations with Beck Depression Inventory. The EQ-5D index seemed to be more responsive than the EQ VAS, but with only medium effect sizes (0.5 < effect size < 0.8) in the British EQ-5D index and only significant in patients with improved health status. The ROC analysis revealed no significant results. The EQ-5D was moderately reliable and responsive in patients with improved health status. Construct validity was limited.Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN53517394.
    Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 12/2013; 11(1):215. · 2.27 Impact Factor
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    Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 11/2013; 52(11):1214-5. · 4.98 Impact Factor
  • Falk Leichsenring, Simone Salzer, Eric Leibing
    American Journal of Psychiatry 11/2013; 170(11):1365-6. · 14.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Findings about the prospective long-term course of depression are usually derived from clinical populations while knowledge about the course in community and primary care samples is rarer. As depressive disorders are highly prevalent and associated with considerable disability and costs, this information is needed to identify the percentages of subjects with a favorable or unfavorable prognosis. Therefore our aim was to summarize the available evidence on the prospective longitudinal course of depression in both general practice and the community. We conducted a systematic, computerized search of Medline and PsycINFO. Main selection criteria were (a) adults with observer assessed depressive disorder recruited in the community or in general practice and (b) naturalistic study with follow-up length of at least three years. As primary outcome the percentages of stable recovery, recovery during or at follow-up, recurrence and chronic course were used. We identified 12 cohorts, with 4009 followed-up individuals. Follow-up intervals ranged between three and 49 years. Between 35% and 60% of participants experienced a stable recovery with no (further) recurrences, while 70-85% recovered at least once during follow-up. A consistent percentage of 10-17% had a chronic course. Recurrence rates varied considerably ranging between 7% and 65%. Significant predictors of an unfavorable course appear to be mainly those variables that lie within the course of depression itself, i.e. history of depression, baseline severity, and comorbidity. Use of broad inclusion criteria heightened study heterogeneity and hampered comparability. Regarding stable recovery, the long-term course within general practice and community samples seems more favorable than within clinical samples. Further research applying a standardized methodology is required.
    Journal of affective disorders 10/2013; · 3.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While we know that social anxiety disorder (SAD) is today's most common anxiety disorder knowledge on its prospective long-term course is sparse. We conducted a systematic literature search using databases Medline and PsycINFO for naturalistic and psychotherapy outcome studies with follow-up durations of at least 24 months. Four naturalistic cohorts and nine psychotherapy trials were included in the review. The naturalistic course in clinical was less favorable than in non-clinical samples (27% vs. 40% recovery rate after 5 years). Psychotherapy trials, all applying (cognitive) behavioral methods, yielded stable outcomes with overall large pre- to follow-up effect sizes on self-report scales. Observer rated remission rates varied considerably (36% to 100%) depending on study design and follow-up length. The results of psychotherapy trials and that of naturalistic studies can hardly be compared due to differences in methodology. More standardized remission and recovery criteria are needed to enhance the understanding of the longitudinal course.
    Journal of anxiety disorders 08/2013; 27(7):692-702. · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Psychodynamically based brief psychotherapy is frequently used in clinical practice for a range of common mental disorders in children and adolescents. To our knowledge, there have been no meta-analyses to evaluate the effectiveness of these therapies. After a broad search, we meta-analyzed controlled outcome studies of short-term psychodynamic psychotherapies (STPP, 40 or fewer sessions). We also performed sensitivity analyses and evaluated the risk of bias in this body of studies. We found 11 studies with a total of 655 patients covering a broad range of conditions including depression, anxiety disorders, anorexia nervosa, and borderline personality disorder. STPP did not separate from what were mostly robust treatment comparators, but there were some subgroup differences. Robust (g = 1.07, 95% CI = 0.80-1.34) within group effect sizes were observed suggesting the treatment may be effective. These effects increased in follow up compared to post treatment (overall, g = 0.24, 95% CI = 0.00-0.48), suggesting a tendency toward increased gains. Heterogeneity was high across most analyses, suggesting that these data need be interpreted with caution. This review suggests that STPP may be effective in children and adolescents across a range of common mental disorders.
    Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 08/2013; 52(8):863-75. · 4.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Research on common and differential factors in the therapeutic process is impeded by the lack of instruments suitable for assessing common change mechanisms. This study presents the psychometric properties of a newly developed time-economic instrument (WIFA-k), which was designed to assess common factors of psychotherapy as designed by Grawe. Within a multi-center study comparing the efficacy of cognitive therapy and psychodynamic therapy in the treatment of social phobia, 6 raters assessed 25 randomly selected, videotaped therapy sessions of each treatment approach, and evaluated common factors using the Wifa-k. Interrater-reliability was found to be high for the items "resource activation", "motivational clarification" and "mastery" and low for the items "therapeutic relationship" and "problem activation". Ways to increase reliability and validity of the scale are discussed.
    PPmP - Psychotherapie · Psychosomatik · Medizinische Psychologie 07/2013; 63(7):286-9. · 1.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract The present investigation is the first to analyse changes in implicit and explicit self-esteem following cognitive therapy (CT) and psychodynamic therapy (PDT) in social anxiety disorder (SAD). We assessed a sub-sample of patients with SAD (n=27 per treatment group, n=12 waitlist condition) in the course of a randomized controlled trial prior to and following individual treatment or wait assessment with an Implicit Association Test and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Both CT and PDT consisted of 25 sessions. Treatments were effective in enhancing implicit and explicit self-esteem. In CT and PDT, changes in explicit self-esteem were associated with SAD symptom change. No such relationships were found in implicit self-esteem. The results seem to indicate that both CT and PDT are effective in establishing a positive implicit and explicit self-esteem in SAD. The differential relationships of changes in implicit and explicit self-esteem to treatment effects on social phobic symptoms are discussed.
    Psychotherapy Research 06/2013; · 1.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE Various approaches to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have been shown to be effective for social anxiety disorder. For psychodynamic therapy, evidence for efficacy in this disorder is scant. The authors tested the efficacy of psychodynamic therapy and CBT in social anxiety disorder in a multicenter randomized controlled trial. METHOD In an outpatient setting, 495 patients with social anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to manual-guided CBT (N=209), manual-guided psychodynamic therapy (N=207), or a waiting list condition (N=79). Assessments were made at baseline and at end of treatment. Primary outcome measures were rates of remission and response, based on the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale applied by raters blind to group assignment. Several secondary measures were assessed as well. RESULTS Remission rates in the CBT, psychodynamic therapy, and waiting list groups were 36%, 26%, and 9%, respectively. Response rates were 60%, 52%, and 15%, respectively. CBT and psychodynamic therapy were significantly superior to waiting list for both remission and response. CBT was significantly superior to psychodynamic therapy for remission but not for response. Between-group effect sizes for remission and response were small. Secondary outcome measures showed significant differences in favor of CBT for measures of social phobia and interpersonal problems, but not for depression. CONCLUSIONS CBT and psychodynamic therapy were both efficacious in treating social anxiety disorder, but there were significant differences in favor of CBT. For CBT, the response rate was comparable to rates reported in Swedish and German studies in recent years. For psychodynamic therapy, the response rate was comparable to rates reported for pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavioral group therapy.
    American Journal of Psychiatry 05/2013; · 14.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a wide variety of interpersonal problems. We examined whether there are different characteristic interpersonal patterns in BPD and how these patterns are related to symptom distress and therapeutic alliance. In 228 inpatients with diagnoses of BPD, interpersonal subtypes based on the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (Horowitz et al., Inventar zur Erfassung Interpersonaler Probleme, 2000) were examined through cluster analyses. The global symptom severity and therapeutic alliance were also assessed. We identified five characteristic interpersonal patterns, which we labeled as follows: Cluster 1, "Vindictive"; Cluster 2, "Moderate Submissive"; Cluster 3, "Nonassertive"; Cluster 4, "Exploitable"; and Cluster 5, "Socially Avoidant." The clusters differed significantly in terms of interpersonal distress, interpersonal differentiation, and severity of global symptoms. The ratings of the therapeutic alliance by therapists during treatment significantly differed between the interpersonal subtypes, and the lowest ratings for patients were in the "Socially Avoidant" cluster. Our results stress the impact of interpersonal style on the appearance and treatment of BPD.
    The Journal of nervous and mental disease 02/2013; 201(2):94-8. · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To quantify the impact of depression measured by self-reports and depression measured by clinical interview on all-cause mortality in individuals with diabetes and to analyze the strength of both associations, the influence of covariates, and possible differences between studies assessing self-rated depressive symptoms and those using a clinical interview to measure depression as predictors of mortality. PUBMED and PsycINFO were searched up to July 2013 for prospective studies assessing depression, diabetes and mortality. The pooled hazard ratios were calculated using random-effects models. Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria. After adjustment for demographic variables depression measured by self-reports was associated with an increased all-cause mortality risk (pooled HR = 2.56, 95% CI 1.89-3.47), and the mortality risk remained high after additional adjustment for diabetes complications (HR = 1.76, 95% CI 1.45-2.14,). Six studies reporting adjusted HRs for depression measured by clinical interviews supported the results of the other models (HR = 1.49, 95% CI 1.15-1.93). Both depression measured by self-report and depression measured by clinical interview have an unfavorable impact on mortality in individuals with diabetes. The results, however, are limited by the heterogeneity of the primary studies. It remains unclear whether self-reports or clinical interviews for depression are the more precise predictor.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(11):e79809. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract There is growing evidence from RCTs supporting the efficacy of both short-term (STPP) and long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (LTPP) for specific mental disorders. In a first series of meta-analyses, LTPP was shown to be superior to shorter forms of psychotherapy, especially in complex mental disorders. However, the evidence for LTPP has not gone unchallenged. After several responses have addressed the raised concerns, a recent meta-analysis by Smit and colleagues (2012) again challenges the efficacy of LTPP. Method: From a methodological perspective, a critical analysis of the Smit et al. meta-analysis was performed. Furthermore, we conducted two new metaanalyses adding studies not included in previous meta-analyses. The purpose was to examine whether the results of the previous meta-analyses are stable. Results: Due to differing inclusion criteria, the meta-analysis by Smit et al. actually compared LTPP to other forms of long-term psychotherapy. Thus, they essentially showed that LTPP was as efficacious as other forms of long-term therapy. For this reason the meta-analysis by Smit et al. does not question the results of previous meta-analyses showing that LTPP is superior to shorter forms of psychotherapy. In addition, the Smit et al. meta-analysis was shown to suffer from several methodological shortcomings. The new meta-analyses we performed did not find significant deviations from previous results. In complex mental disorders LTPP proved to be significantly superior to shorter forms of therapy corroborating results of previous meta-analyses. Conclusions: Data on dose-effect relations suggest that for many patients with complex mental disorders, including chronic mental disorders and personality disorders, short-term psychotherapy is not sufficient. For these patients, long-term treatments may be indicated. The meta-analyses presented here provide further support for LTPP in these populations. Nevertheless, there is a need for more research in LTPP and other long-term psychotherapies.
    Psychodynamic psychiatry. 01/2013; 41(3):361-84.
  • Falk Leichsenring, Sven Rabung
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    ABSTRACT: There is growing evidence from randomized controlled trials supporting the efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy (PDT) in specific mental disorders. Yet the evidence for the efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy has not gone unchallenged. Several responses have addressed these concerns, showing that most of the criticism was not justified. Nevertheless, the evidence for psychodynamic psychotherapy continues to be frequently ignored, criticized or presented in a distorted way. A recent controversy published in the Nervenarzt may serve as an illustrative example, which is discussed here more in detail. This example shows that some authors are not interested in a truly scientific discussion, but rather try to discredit a rival method of psychotherapy and its scientific representatives for political reasons.
    Zeitschrift fur Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychotherapie 01/2013; 59(1):13-32. · 0.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this research was to examine the extent to which the use of research-specific procedures in psychodynamic psychotherapy impacts upon treatment effectiveness and which variables moderate this potential relationship. Effects of audio/video recording of sessions, use of treatment manuals, and checks of treatment fidelity were examined. A meta-analysis was conducted on randomized controlled trials of psychodynamic psychotherapy. Forty-six independent treatment samples totaling 1615 patients were included. The magnitude of change between pretreatment and posttreatment aggregated across all studies (45 treatment samples) for overall outcome was large (d = 1.01), and further improvement was observed between posttreatment and an average 12.8-month follow-up (d = 0.18). Subgroup analyses comparing studies that used research-specific procedures and those that did not revealed that for posttreatment data no differences in treatment effects were found. However, the use of treatment manuals and fidelity checks were significantly associated with improvement between the end of treatment and follow-up assessment. Within the limitations of analyses, this data offered preliminary evidence that use of research-specific procedures does not contribute in a negative manner to posttreatment outcomes in psychodynamic psychotherapy, and their use contributes to positive differences that emerge with time. These findings, although observational in nature, make a case for reconsidering how dimensions of clinical utility and experimental control may be integrated in psychodynamic psychotherapy to enable further elucidation of principles that evidently work. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
    Psychotherapy Theory Research Practice Training 09/2012; 49(3):276-90. · 0.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alexithymia is characterized by restrictions in the perception, differentiation and regulation of affects. It is considered to be an important vulnerability factor for the development of mental disorders. Little is known, however, of whether alexithymia is associated with specific mental disorders. Data from 1,461 patients of an outpatient clinic for psychosomatic medicine with various mental disorders (depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, adjustment disorders, somatoform disorders, eating disorders, and psychological and behavioral factors of physical illness) were collected between January 2007 and October 2009. The 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) was administered to study alexithymia. The diagnoses were made following ICD-10 guidelines. In our sample, the total prevalence of alexithymia (TAS-20 ≥ 61) was 21.36%. The percentage of alexithymic patients was significantly increased in the group of patients with depressive disorders (26.9%) as compared to other diagnostic groups. Using TAS-20 as a continuous measure, multiple hierarchical regression analyses revealed that higher TAS-20 total scores were significantly associated with depressive and anxiety disorders. However, after controlling for the level of depression, the association of anxiety disorders with alexithymia was no longer significant. With regard to TAS-20 subscales, 'difficulty describing feelings' (subscale 2) was also significantly related to depressive disorders. According to the results, the prevalence of alexithymia is relatively high in patients with mental disorders. The increased prevalence of highly alexithymic subjects suggests that alexithymia is associated with a higher vulnerability to mental illness. The prevalence of alexithymia was especially increased for depressive disorders. Thus, further evidence supporting the concept of 'alexithymic depression' was provided. From a therapeutic perspective, treatments should be developed that take the specific needs of highly alexithymic patients into account.
    Psychopathology 01/2012; 45(1):22-8. · 1.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this article, the authors present a psychodynamically oriented psychotherapy approach for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to childhood abuse. This neurobiologically informed, phase-oriented treatment approach, which has been developed in Germany during the past 20 years, takes into account the broad comorbidity and the large degree of ego-function impairment typically found in these patients. Based on a psychodynamic relationship orientation, this treatment integrates a variety of trauma-specific imaginative and resource-oriented techniques. The approach places major emphasis on the prevention of vicarious traumatization. The authors are presently planning to test the approach in a randomized controlled trial aimed at strengthening the evidence base for psychodynamic psychotherapy in PTSD.
    Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 01/2012; 76(1):69-93. · 0.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In a previous randomized controlled trial (RCT), short-term efficacy of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (STPP) in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) was demonstrated. In this article, long-term stability of these effects will be examined. Effects of CBT and STPP will be compared. In the original RCT, patients with GAD were treated with either CBT (n = 29) or STPP (n = 28). Treatments were carried out according to manuals and included up to 30 sessions. As the primary outcome measure the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale was used. In addition to short-term outcome previously reported, treatment effects were assessed 12 months after termination of treatment. Both CBT and STPP yielded large improvements at 12-month follow-up. No significant differences were found between treatments concerning the primary outcome measure. This result was corroborated by 3 self-report measures of anxiety. However, in measures of trait anxiety and worry, CBT was superior. Concerning depression, differences reported at posttreatment were no longer significant at 12-month follow-up. In GAD, both CBT and STPP yield large and stable effects 12 months after treatment. Concerning trait anxiety and worry, CBT seems to be superior. For STPP, further studies should be carried out to confirm the results.
    Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie 08/2011; 56(8):503-8. · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    Falk Leichsenring, Sven Rabung
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    ABSTRACT: Dose-effect relationship data suggest that short-term psychotherapy is insufficient for many patients with chronic distress or personality disorders (complex mental disorders). To examine the comparative efficacy of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (LTPP) in complex mental disorders. We conducted a meta-analysis of controlled trials of LTPP fulfilling the following inclusion criteria: therapy lasting for at least a year or 50 sessions; active comparison conditions; prospective design; reliable and valid outcome measures; treatments terminated. Ten studies with 971 patients were included. Between-group effect sizes in favour of LTPP compared with less intensive (lower dose) forms of psychotherapy ranged between 0.44 and 0.68. Results suggest that LTPP is superior to less intensive forms of psychotherapy in complex mental disorders. Further research on long-term psychotherapy is needed, not only for psychodynamic psychotherapy, but also for other therapies.
    The British journal of psychiatry: the journal of mental science 07/2011; 199(1):15-22. · 6.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Interpersonal problems are highly relevant to the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) patients. Previous studies using the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems identified several interpersonal subtypes in GAD patients. In this study, we wanted to replicate earlier findings of interpersonal subtypes in GAD. We investigated whether these interpersonal subtypes are characterized by different types of interpersonal problems and different levels of interpersonal distress, and we further examined whether they differed with regard to improvement of interpersonal problems after short-term treatment. This study is based on results from a randomized controlled trial that investigated short-term treatments in GAD outpatients. For secondary analysis, interpersonal subtypes were identified by cluster analysis and Inventory of Interpersonal Problems profiles were calculated for both the total sample (N = 52) and the interpersonal subtypes using the Structural Summary Method for Circumplex Data. This study confirmed previous results demonstrating the existence of interpersonal subtypes in GAD. Four interpersonal subtypes were identified: Overly Nurturant, Intrusive, Socially Avoidant, and Nonassertive. Short-term treatment significantly improved interpersonal problems (d = 0.46) within the total GAD sample. Interestingly, the effect sizes of the four clusters differed considerably (d = 0.19-1.24) and the clusters displayed different changes in the two circumplex axes Dominance and Nurturance. Our study indicates that change of interpersonal problems needs to be specifically analyzed, even within homogenous diagnostic groups.
    Psychotherapy Theory Research Practice Training 05/2011; 48(3):304-10. · 0.84 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
295.60 Total Impact Points


  • 2013
    • German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF)
      Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany
  • 2008–2013
    • Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
      Gieben, Hesse, Germany
    • Asklepios Klinik Barmbek
      Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2012
    • Dalhousie University
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 2011
    • Universitätsklinikum Gießen und Marburg
      • Klinik für Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie
      Marburg, Hesse, Germany
  • 2006–2011
    • University of Toulouse II - Le Mirail
      • UFR de Psychologie
      Tolosa de Llenguadoc, Midi-Pyrénées, France
  • 1999–2011
    • Universitätsmedizin Göttingen
      • • Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy
      • • Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
      Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany
  • 2007
    • Institut für Forschungsinformation und Qualitätssicherung
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 2002–2007
    • Gesellschaft für wissenschaftliche Datenverarbeitung mbH Göttingen
      Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany
  • 2001–2003
    • Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
      Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany