Göran Ahlin
Waiting for the tide to turn:
Aspects of the rise and expected fall of CBT in Sweden.


This presentation will offer a birds-eye view of the history of psychotherapy trainings, psychotherapist licensing, and the impact of CBT on this process, from the 1970’s onwards. This description will include the interaction between New Public Management styles, the field of psychiatric care, and the governmental board for Assessment of Medical Treatments, SBU. The talk will also address the mix of ambivalent attitudes existing in a range of arenas: within the helping professions, within psychological, sociological and medical faculties of universities, as well as the governmental board for quality assessment of university trainings.

Prior to the advent of CBT in the first decade of this century, psychoanalysis was the preferred frame of reference. However, Swedish outcome research of individual therapies (Holmquist et.al.) has confirmed the well established Psychotherapeutic Paradox: no single method can be shown - statistically measured - to be generally superior to others.

Powerful political agendas have polarized the field of psychotherapy. The Health Authorities have invested exclusively in CBT trainings at university level, as well as in institutions of Care. This has resulted in the closure of a number of psycho-dynamically oriented trainings. Consequently, the growth of CBT trainings has accelerated (about 2000 to date). But patients and clients have slowly started to oppose and complain about their lack of choice in regards to the range of available treatments. Although service users have asked for psychodynamic and CBT resources in equal proportions, in the last decade they are only offered CBT.

There is now a widespread hope for the tide to turn again, or rather to bring some reasonable balance in the field. Although this has not happened as yet, it is likely that the turn will come in the not to distant future.

Göran Ahlin, MD & PhD, is a specialist psychiatrist, a licensed psychotherapist, and a group analyst. For 20 years he was the Director of Training in Psychotherapy and in Advanced Level Group Analytic Psychotherapy at the private university college, Psykoterapisällskapet, in Stockholm, Sweden. He is an associated Professor of Psychotherapy of the Karolinska Institutet Medical University, Stockholm. He is now retired. His doctorial thesis was on the Group Analytic concept of the Group Matrix. He has written other texts on therapeutic community work and on pedagogy of psychotherapy trainings.  He is member of a number of international and national psychotherapy organisations e.g. GASi, IAGP and others.
The Limbus Critical Psychotherapy Conference
Challenging the Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapies:
The Overselling of CBT's Evidence Base
For further information please contact: Farhad Dalal, Limbus, 1 The Plains, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5DR; Tel: 0778 222 0385 
email cbt_conf 'at' limbus 'dot' org 'dot' uk