UMass-Amherst Study: Match Therapist And Patient Carefully For Best Treatment

Jul 6, 2021

A UMass-Amherst-led study suggests that therapy works best when patient and therapist are carefully matched - even if that means using telemedicine.

The study found that therapists chosen based on their track record in a particular area of mental healthcare, like depression or anxiety, helped their patients more than those chosen for pragmatic reasons, like insurance or location.

UMass psychology researcher Michael Constantino said that suggests it's worth looking for the right therapist, perhaps having sessions over zoom, which has been a common practice in the pandemic.

"It could be the case that there is a therapist who's very well matched to you four states away," he said, "and you'll have a greater likelihood of improving than if you just saw therapist X who happens to have an opening and who happens to live nearby.

Constantino said the results were even more marked for patients with severe mental health problems as well as people of color.

He said researchers are now creating a national database listing therapists according to their strengths and weaknesses.