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How do time limits affect our psychotherapies? A literature review

Rosa De Geest (UGent) and Reitske Meganck (UGent)
(2019) PSYCHOLOGICA BELGICA. 59(1). p.206-226
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Abstract
The application of time limits (i.e. restricting the amount of sessions before the beginning of psychotherapy) has become ingrained in psychotherapy research and in the context of managed care, mostly due to pragmatic and economic reasons. However, little is know on how this technique interferes with the psychotherapeutic process. Although several theorists have considered the possible advantages and drawbacks of the technique, research explaining these mechanisms is scattered. By conducting this review, we strived to answer two questions: (1) Does a time limit alter the psychotherapeutic process? And (2) In what way? In doing so, this study aspires to grant more insight into the mechanisms of time limited psychotherapy and aimes to contribute to a first understanding of the dynamics of a time restricted therapy process. We searched for articles in the databases of Web of Science and Pubmed. Our review identified 28 studies that provide empirical grounds to explain processes involved when applying a time limit to psychotherapy. Qualitative research suggests that a time limit exerts pressure on the therapy process and creates an expectancy effect, which can have both positive and negative consequences. Additionally, time limits can be associated to therapists taking on a more directive role in therapy. Results show that a time limit is anything but a neutral intervention; it is a technique that complexly interacts with therapy processes on multiple grounds. Further research is vital to determine which environment is appropriate for its application.
Keywords
psychotherapy, time limit, termination, health care, ending, INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOTHERAPY, PATIENT DROPOUT, BRIEF THERAPY, MANAGED CARE, INVENTORY, CLINICIAN, CRITIQUE

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Citation

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MLA
De Geest, Rosa, and Reitske Meganck. “How Do Time Limits Affect Our Psychotherapies? A Literature Review.” PSYCHOLOGICA BELGICA, vol. 59, no. 1, 2019, pp. 206–26.
APA
De Geest, R., & Meganck, R. (2019). How do time limits affect our psychotherapies? A literature review. PSYCHOLOGICA BELGICA, 59(1), 206–226.
Chicago author-date
De Geest, Rosa, and Reitske Meganck. 2019. “How Do Time Limits Affect Our Psychotherapies? A Literature Review.” PSYCHOLOGICA BELGICA 59 (1): 206–26.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
De Geest, Rosa, and Reitske Meganck. 2019. “How Do Time Limits Affect Our Psychotherapies? A Literature Review.” PSYCHOLOGICA BELGICA 59 (1): 206–226.
Vancouver
1.
De Geest R, Meganck R. How do time limits affect our psychotherapies? A literature review. PSYCHOLOGICA BELGICA. 2019;59(1):206–26.
IEEE
[1]
R. De Geest and R. Meganck, “How do time limits affect our psychotherapies? A literature review,” PSYCHOLOGICA BELGICA, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 206–226, 2019.
@article{8627646,
  abstract     = {The application of time limits (i.e. restricting the amount of sessions before the beginning of psychotherapy) has become ingrained in psychotherapy research and in the context of managed care, mostly due to pragmatic and economic reasons. However, little is know on how this technique interferes with the psychotherapeutic process. Although several theorists have considered the possible advantages and drawbacks of the technique, research explaining these mechanisms is scattered. By conducting this review, we strived to answer two questions: (1) Does a time limit alter the psychotherapeutic process? And (2) In what way? In doing so, this study aspires to grant more insight into the mechanisms of time limited psychotherapy and aimes to contribute to a first understanding of the dynamics of a time restricted therapy process. We searched for articles in the databases of Web of Science and Pubmed. Our review identified 28 studies that provide empirical grounds to explain processes involved when applying a time limit to psychotherapy. Qualitative research suggests that a time limit exerts pressure on the therapy process and creates an expectancy effect, which can have both positive and negative consequences. Additionally, time limits can be associated to therapists taking on a more directive role in therapy. Results show that a time limit is anything but a neutral intervention; it is a technique that complexly interacts with therapy processes on multiple grounds. Further research is vital to determine which environment is appropriate for its application.},
  author       = {De Geest, Rosa and Meganck, Reitske},
  issn         = {0033-2879},
  journal      = {PSYCHOLOGICA BELGICA},
  keywords     = {psychotherapy,time limit,termination,health care,ending,INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOTHERAPY,PATIENT DROPOUT,BRIEF THERAPY,MANAGED CARE,INVENTORY,CLINICIAN,CRITIQUE},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {206--226},
  title        = {How do time limits affect our psychotherapies? A literature review},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/pb.475},
  volume       = {59},
  year         = {2019},
}

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