95% of Russian psychologists combine several methods of psychotherapy when working with clients, shows a study conducted by the psychotherapist selection service Alter and the online school of psychological professions “Psychodemia”. The most popular are psychodynamic approaches - directions based on the theory of psychoanalysis: they are chosen by 43% of psychologists. Second place is shared by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and humanistic approaches - 27% of psychologists each work in them. In third place in popularity is Gestalt therapy: it is preferred by 26% of specialists. The study is based on data on more than 6 thousand specialists over six years. Only 10% of them were selected to work on the platform.
The psychotherapist selection service Alter and the online school of psychological professions “Psychodemia” (part of the educational holding Ultimate Education) studied the most popular methods that Russian psychologists use in their work for Psychologist’s Day (celebrated on November 22). The study is based on data about 6 thousand specialists who have applied for registration on the Alter platform since 2017. However, only about 10% of them were selected for the Alter database.
Analysts have concluded that 95% of Russian psychologists combine several methods of psychotherapy when working with clients. The most popular are psychodynamic approaches - directions based on the theory of psychoanalysis. They are chosen by 43% of psychologists. Second place is shared by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and humanistic approaches (recognizing a person as unique for his ability to develop) - 27% of psychologists each work in them. The third most popular is Gestalt therapy (based on experimental-phenomenological and existential approaches), it is preferred by 26% of specialists.
As the researchers note, the popularity of psychodynamic approaches is explained by the fact that cognitive behavioral therapy came to Russia about ten years later than the other methods mentioned; moreover, the offer of educational programs dedicated to psychodynamic methods on the market is much wider than for any other .
Less than 5% of psychologists work in only one method - as a rule, specialists combine several approaches. Cognitive behavioral therapy and art therapy are the most commonly used in tandem with other methods, followed by Gestalt therapy. Psychologists also often use coaching (a coach is a specialist who helps achieve personal and professional goals). “Despite the fact that classical evidence-based methods of psychological assistance are effective, each of them has its own limitations and weaknesses,” explains Maria Danina, candidate of psychological sciences and founder of Psychodemia. “Most often, psychologists choose the approach that is most likely to help specifically for a specific client - taking into account the specifics of his requests, character, capabilities and expectations.”
Most often, Gestalt therapy is used as the only method of work: according to research, 16% of Gestaltists do not combine this approach with others. At the same time, 22% of specialists supplement it with art therapy, fairy tale therapy, symbol drama or sand therapy. 14% of Gestalt therapists combine practice with coaching, and 13.5% with CBT. Maria Danina explains that many people learn this method without basic psychological education, and retraining in other areas may not be available to them. In addition, according to her, Gestalt therapy is a “comprehensive approach and philosophy” in which the specialist has enough explanations and tools to work with a wide range of needs. Finally, training in Gestalt therapy is quite lengthy; specialists may simply not have time to study elsewhere by the time they start practice.
The opposite situation is with the cognitive-behavioral approach (less than 7% of psychologists who practice it work exclusively in this method): almost 19% of CBT specialists combine practice with Gestalt therapy, 21% with art therapy, fairy tale therapy and other similar methods , and 20% with coaching.
Among representatives of psychodynamic approaches, 17.3% of specialists turn to CBT, 19% to client-centered approaches, and 8% to art therapy. In its “pure” form, psychodynamic approaches are used by less than 8% of psychologists who claim this method as their main one. Coaches in 32% of cases use both CBT and the Gestalt method, and in 30% of cases they resort to various types of art therapy.
The head of the working group on the psychological well-being of the population under the State Duma Committee on Family Protection, Issues of Paternity, Maternity and Childhood, Alexey Bogachev, says that Gestalt therapy is one of the most popular methods of psychological assistance all over the world. According to him, through Gestalt therapy “various approaches can be manifested, which involve working here and now with the human psyche.” Another popular direction, cognitive behavioral therapy, he continues, requires the user to have clear skills, an understanding of healthy thinking patterns and cognitive distortions. “And Gestalt has a greater degree of freedom. If a person knows the method well, he is able to work with severe personality deformations, when it is necessary to go deep and work seriously in a surgical operation mode. On the other hand, the Gestalt approach opens the way for charlatans for the same reason.” Kommersant said that last year deputies intended to introduce a bill on psychological assistance in Russia to the State Duma. One of the main potential innovations is the educational requirement. The developers of the bill want to allow only those who have a basic specialized education to be called psychologists. But experts point out that over the past 30 years, many personnel have been trained who do not have such a formal education. Thus, up to 20% of practicing psychologists may end up in the illegal field. Alexey Bogachev confirms that there are still serious debates in the professional community, for example, whether to recognize a person who has undergone professional retraining as a psychologist. He believes that it is necessary to adopt a “framework law” that would define the types of activities, a mechanism for voluntary certification, the possibility of forming a register of psychologists on a voluntary basis, and would “put all disputes out of brackets.”