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Research Design for Psychodrama Therapy


If you plan to do research in psychodrama therapy you have to give clear information on:

·        Age and sex of clients and therapists

·        Sample

·        Competence and experience of therapists

·        Kind of diseases, problems, crises

·        Amount and duration of the sessions

·        Setting:  single, couple, family, group

·        Outpatient or inpatient psychotherapy

·        Psychotherapy method and research method

·        Measurement instruments

·        Comparison of psychodrama therapy with another method of psychotherapy

·        Comparison of psychodrama therapy with psycho pharmaceutical therapy (Strauß, Burlingame & MacKenzie, 2001).


Kächele (2002) ordered psychotherapy research in phases:

·        Phase 0: Clinical case report

The problem of single case studies is that mostly you have to believe the psychotherapist and there is no possibility to proof. So it is a kind of heuristic. We have to find rules for case research to be more systematic in descriptions, and then we can find clinical standards for psychotherapy practise out of several case studies.

·        Phase 1: Epidemiological and process research

You can take the psychotherapy sessions on audiocassette or videotape and analyse as an example mimic and vocabulary of the psychotherapist. Also you have to collect socio-demographic information from patients in large samples over 1000.

·        Phase 2: Experimental analogue research

Classical experiments are in free associations. On the other hand you have to look for clinical severity and can use the symptom checklist SCL-90R from Derogatis. The global severity index (GSI) for inpatients is 1.6, for outpatients 1.0 and for normal inhabitants .4, so you can compare with a norm.

·        Phase 3: Efficacy research

Randomization to treatment and non-treatment (control group) is the “gold” standard. But you also can compare with effect size[1] of waiting group (.4) and treatment group (.8).

·        Phase 4: Effectiveness research, observational application research

It is a kind of a large naturalistic field study. You can ask if there is an interaction between duration of illness and duration and intensity of treatment, between age and socio-economic status, severity of diseases and so on. The aim is to be evidence based supported.

·        Phase 5: Efficiency and patient focussed research

The idea is from Ken Howard. It is a kind of quality management, which wants to correct empirical based ongoing psychotherapies. Clinical decisions will be optimised with the help of data archives. We might get decisions, which treatment helps for whom.


In evidence based psychotherapy the randomised clinical trial (RCT, see phase 3) is the only accepted way of research, but naturalistic approaches have the advantage to be more valid extern in normal practice. You have to decide and can also mix the design. Naturalistic approach goes along with control groups, qualitative and quantitative methods and systematic single case studies but not with randomisation, this is too artificial.



Kächele, H. (2002). Stadien der psychotherapeutischen Forschung und ihre mögliche Auswirkung auf die Praxis. In U. Barke & W. Rosendahl (Hrsg.), Psychotraumatologie und katathym-imaginative Psychotherapie (S. 489-498). Lengerich: Papst Science Publishers.

Kächele, H. (2002). Fases de la investigación en Psicoterapia (Phases of research in psychotherapy). Intersubjetivo 4(1), 5-12.

Strauß, B., Burlingame G. & MacKenzie R. (2001). Wer, was, wann, wo, wie? Minimalanforderungen für die Veröffentlichung gruppenbezogener Forschungsergebnisse. Gruppenpsychotherapie und Gruppendynamik 37,  207-213.


M. Wieser ( )


[1] ES = [mean (TG) – mean (CG)] / s (CG)

ES= Effect Size, TG = Therapy Group, CG = Control Group, s = standard deviation