Online psychodynamic psychotherapies: a scoping review. The case of bereavement support

Livia Sani, Marie-Frédérique Bacqué


Background: In order to comply with the 2020 health restrictions, many psychotherapeutic approaches have begun to hold online sessions, including psychodynamic psychotherapy, for which this modality marked a new procedure.

The authors are psychologists with a psychoanalytic background, who mostly work with bereaved people. They considered it essential to initiate research, not only on online psychodynamic psychotherapy, but also on the scientific results regarding this practice used explicitly in cases of bereavement.

For these reasons, two literature reviews were conducted according to the PRISMA protocol concerning: the use of online psychodynamic therapy in general (1), and its use in cases of bereavement (2).

Methods: The databases used were PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar, Eric and Web of Science. Inclusion criteria contains peer-reviewed scientific articles published in English from 2010 to 2022, with a focus on online psychodynamic psychotherapy and bereavement cases. Exclusion criteria included non-peer-reviewed studies, non-English articles, systematic reviews, quantitative scale validation studies, research protocols, and studies primarily focused on training.

Compared with the research on the effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy conducted online with all the different types of patients (1), only 5 research papers were selected from 842,103 articles.

Out of 431,372 articles on the use of psychodynamic teletherapy with bereaved patients (2), in the end no articles were selected.

Results: The results suggest that online psychotherapy involves a dynamic process very similar to face-to-face therapies. The small number of articles selected for both reviews underscores the need for further research on this topic.

Conclusions: Since psychodynamic psychotherapy is based on concepts that are difficult to standardize (such as countertransference or free association), it is possible that clinicians and researchers have not yet found specific ways to validate it online.


Bereavement; Clinical Psychology; Online support; Psychodynamic psychotherapy.

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