The German Psychologists’ victorious quest for parity … Or: Can consulting services be commoditized???
How the sophisticated application of data analysis and de-mystification of “unique solutions” will let you not only survive but thrive in a hostile, no-growth environment – while former competitors may become extinct!
German Psychologists had been advocating for the appreciation of their science and profession for several decades. But it was not until German and Swiss Psychologists united at the University of Bern in the early 1990’s that their dream would become reality. How did they do it? By raising the bar when it comes to the application of mathematics, particularly statistics and research design to a new level. In the most comprehensive therapy outcome meta analysis ever conducted, commonly practiced therapy approaches including pharmacological treatment were scrutinized for their efficacy remedying the most common psychiatric disorders. The results led to true parity for psychologists and changed health care administration irrevocably:
Particular therapeutic approaches were found to be significantly superior over pharmacological treatment in their efficacy mid- and long-term for most psychiatric disorders.
- Even if less credentialed and/or academically trained professionals follow the identified and standardized best practice treatment protocols progress remains significant in mid- and long-term efficacy and superior to other approaches applied by expensively and expensively trained experts.
- Long-term psychoanalysis failed to prove its efficacy and hence to justify the status quo.
- Practitioners of therapeutic schools that failed to prove their efficacy were denied reimbursement by health insurance providers. These approaches are therefore becoming extinct.
Old-school psychoanalysts had always claimed that their approach should be considered more of an art, something that cannot really be captured, standardized, explained or reproduced easily. Unless, they said, you have undergone your own psychoanalysis, and years of weekly therapy sessions. The burdensome economics and inefficiencies of such a dogmatic approach equates to the value of a single family home or the acquisition of an advanced degree. Two of the most renowned and prominent psychoanalysts of their time conducted a comprehensive therapy outcome study which re-oriented and re-defined the critical success factors for psychoanalysis. (Wallerstein, R.S. (1989). Forty-two lives in treatment: A study of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press.). This seminal study revealed embarrassing results for the “psychoanalysis as an art” school of thought. To avoid economic extinction one must, 1.) utilize sophisticated data analysis tools to capture best practices and increase transparency and predictability, and 2.) even a unique solution provider must scientifically prove efficacy in comparison to competitors.
There are both striking parallels and existential lessons to be drawn from this narrative for the practitioners and business owners of consulting services enterprises.
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