Extending Systematic Case Study Method: Generating and Testing Hypotheses About Therapeutic Factors Through Comparisons of Successful and Unsuccessful Cases
Keywords:case comparison, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, therapeutic factors, treatment failures
This commentary focuses on two case comparison studies, one by Burckell and McMain (2011) on Dialectical Behavior Therapy for borderline personality disorder, and one by Watson et al. (2011) and Goldman et al. (2011) on Emotion-Focused Therapy for depression. The associated case comparison method, which evaluates and contrasts one successful case against one unsuccessful case that are both conducted in similar conditions, provides a unique opportunity for deepening our understanding of therapeutic change. Both therapies are integrative approaches that are clinically state-of-the art and empirically supported, and that have been drawing considerable attention from practitioners and researchers. In this commentary, I first discuss the case comparison method by reviewing previous such approaches, I then examine each pair of case studies with a focus on (a) findings on factors influencing success and limited success, and (b) methodological issues associated with the application of this unique method. Finally, I end my commentary with a suggestion for conducting case comparison studies.
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