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Project: Identifying the Active Ingredients of psychotherapy: A Methods development project (AIM)

The AIM project is about identifying the mechanisms of action in psychotherapy by developing methods that are robust for finding causal relationships even when data is not collected using experimental methods.

Project information

Project manager
Fredrik Falkenström, Linnaeus University
Other project members
Viktor Kaldo, Linnaeus University/Karolinska Institutet; Dan Bengtsson, Karolinska Institutet; Rikard Fjällström, Region Stockholm
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University; Karolinska Institutet; Region Stockholm
1 Jan 2020 – ongoing
Psychology (Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)

More about the project

Around half of patients treated with psychotherapy do not improve. Identifying mechanisms of change enables removing ineffective and accentuating effective strategies. However, causal inference in mechanisms of change research is difficult since randomization is often not feasible.

The goal of the AIM project is to refine methods for causal inference from non-experimental data. We are working on identifying the conditions (e.g., sample size, data requirements) for optimal use of methods for causal inference. We will also demonstrate methods on real-world data from psychiatric care as proof-of-concept.

Methods are evaluated by Monte Carlo simulation studies, in which data is generated by repeated random sampling from a population with known effects and comparing estimates from various methods to known values. By developing and refining novel methods for studying change mechanisms, we hope to advance the field’s capability to produce unbiased findings with direct impact on clinical practice, to improve mental health care for patients.