What’s ahead for psychodynamic psychotherapy? A Derner alumnus shares his thoughts.

by Bonnie Eissner

What’s ahead for psychodynamic psychotherapy? We recently asked Alex Levi, M.A. ’73, Ph.D. ’75, one of the members of the Derner Advisory Council, to share his predictions, which we’ve excerpted here.

We also welcome your thoughts and predictions on this topic. Please send an email to

What do you foresee will be the biggest changes in psychotherapy practice in the next decade?  

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I think that what we may face [will be affected by] three primary drivers.

The first would be technology, and the effect will be much more psychotherapy at a distance through screens. One of the consequences will be a blending and blurring of the distinctions between psychotherapy, psycho-education and something I would call psycho-public health—a holistic view of how psychologists—and clinicians in particular—can influence the public health movement.

Second, I would say, is the growth of the evidence-based treatment juggernaut. With electronic record keeping, clinicians will more likely be subject to measurements and being monitored.

Third, is the new political and economic structure. What I mean by that is that there may likely be an evolution of huge health systems that will generate teams of healthcare providers that treat the whole patient, and the clinical psychologist will be operating as a member of a healthcare team.

How can clinicians best prepare for or address these changes?

Get up to speed on the technology, keep good records with clear treatment objectives and keep one’s ear close to the street to know what is happening in the larger healthcare realm. Hopefully, exclaim—paraphrasing Einstein—that all that can be measured does not count and all that counts cannot always be measured.

How can students best prepare for or address these changes?

Train as generalists but discover an interest and develop a niche specialty to distinguish oneself from the competition. There are crying needs, but one must learn to use clinical skills to lead and work in groups.

Do you see any certain specialties emerging?

I think there are all kinds of them—eating disorders, trauma. You could even go into health psychology and various behaviors. There is a huge range of lifestyle pathologies that are waiting to be treated.

Dr. Levi is in private practice in Manhattan. 

This piece appeared in the Derner eNews Fall 2013 edition.

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