Inaugural lecture Prof. Patricia van Oppen EMGO+

On March 20th, Patricia van Oppen held her inaugural lecture titled “What psychotherapists can learn from baseball, hockey and Van Gaal”. She is now professor of Psychotherapy at the Psychiatry department, and will focus on knowledge about (cost-)effectiveness of psychotherapy for the most prevalent psychiatric disorders. She is also the new program leader of the Mental Health program of EMGO+. 

Well applied psychotherapy helps in many cases to ease psychiatric symptoms and problems. Evidence from research has shown that various psychotherapeutic treatments are effective for different psychiatric disorders, such as the treatment of anxiety, depressive, psychotic and post-traumatic stress disorders. But do patients in the Netherlands always receive these effective treatments? According to van Oppen the evidence-based treatments are not applied sufficiently. Psychotherapists still rely on their own preferences and ‘clinical intuition’, and use the methods that they are familiar with. They are not led by results from scientific research in many cases. Research has shown that psychotherapists unfortunately can not predict accurately which patients will benefit from certain treatments.

Better education of psychotherapists in the Netherlands would lead to large improvements. The psychotherapeutic treatments that have proven effective in research should be centralized in the educational system, by focusing on scientific evidence and statistics. This is more often visible in the world of baseball, soccer and hockey, where decisions are made based on evidence and statistics instead of intuition. Prof. dr. van Oppen took the example of Louis van Gaal during the crucial goalkeeper change in the 2014 World Cup soccer, as his decision was based on statistical facts regarding success rates of his two goalkeepers.

In the scientific world it is important to create awareness and address the implementation of evidence-based treatments in clinical practice. This could be realized by using more anecdotal evidence that can reach clinical practitioners more than the usual method of scientific result reporting.

Prof dr Patricia van Oppen