SARC Conference, Vienna 2020

Initiating Practice-Related Research

Report on an EAP Conference, 23-Feb. 2020, 

Sigmund Freud Private University, Vienna

After the usual EAP Meetings in Vienna, the EAP’s Science and Research Committee (SARC) organized a 1-day conference on the topic of “Initiating Practice-Related Research”. As the title indicates, the aim was to initiate new Research projects with a design that fits in with psychotherapy practice.  SARC invited two keynote speakers.

Mattias Desmet is professor at the Ghent University in Belgium.  He made a plea (also published recently in Psychotherapy Research, the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR) journal[]) for another, alternative research-design in psychotherapy.  He criticized the predominance of RCT designs in psychotherapy research and the low meaning of single-case studies in the world of research.  Therefore, he has built up a single-case study archive, where all relevant journals published single case studies are listed.[]  Currently, there are about 3100 studies.  The more studies that become listed, the better they can become a statistical basis for empirical studies in the sense of a ‘Single-Case Experimental Design’.

Gunther Schiepek (German & Austria) from the Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, is interested in Synergetics and (non-linear) Dynamic Systems in Psychology, Management and Neuroscience.  He has specialized in Process-Outcome-Studies in Psychotherapy, including daily routine factors.  He also criticized the predominance of RCT-designs and favours computer-supported single-case studies.  He has developed an ‘app’ with which patients can report daily on how they are feeling today.  With this, he can discover the dynamics of change process that are much more differentiated than when a study just measures symptoms at a larger time-interval.  This can generate completely different results of process and outcome.[]  He demonstrated this very convincingly with some examples of single-case processes. 

After the two presentations, there were discussions in smaller groups, in order to generate questions for the presenters.  In the second phase, there was an engaged and vivid discussion with the presenters and the audience, moderated by the Chair of SARC.  The conference was very inspiring and seemed to encourage all the 60 participants present – from various countries and modalities – to engage more in practice-related research.

The organizers received back – after the conference, but also subsequently – a lot of positive feedback, not only from the participants, but also from the two presenters.  People were impressed by the quality of the presentations and the discussion, as well by the outcome of this 1-day conference, and hope to get along soon with the next steps.

There are 4 outcomes that are arising from this conference:

  • ¬ A Project Group (including the two presenters, members of the SARC Board and some participants) will draft a paper to give a basic understanding of practice-related psychotherapy research, that will be shared with the members of this conference.  The draft will go to the participants for their feedback.  After this, a revised draft will go as a proposal for a scientific position paper of EAP, for voting by the General Board at its next meeting.  This scientific position paper will also be published in the International Journal of Psychotherapy.
  • ¬ A Working Group: In order to make it possible for more single-case studies – that have been published in other than leading journals – to be included in the database of the Single-Case Archive, some criteria will need to be established, as a minimal ‘quality standard’, which are also flexible enough to be accepted by the many different psychotherapeutic modalities.  A working group will be established to develop a draft of such criteria.  This draft will also be sent out to all the conference participants for feedback.  The aim will be: (a) to facilitate publishing single-case studies in different journals; but also (b) to install a kind of peer-review process to include these sorts of articles into the archive.
  • ¬ Training: The EAP’s SARC will organize – with Gunter Schiepek – a workshop / seminar / course (with two or three parts) to introduce and train therapists in the use of the Time Series, based on the methodology that he has developed.  By using this Time Series analysis, any psychotherapists from any country or modality can join in on the ongoing research project of his centre, and get evaluations of process and outcome, based on the data from all the single case-studies included in the data-base.
  • ¬ Co-operation: The two researchers are willing to cooperate with those interested in EAP to build up a new multi-modal and trans-national study for single-cases using the Single Case Experimental Design.  Together, we will have to look for funding, which is often easier to get if universities are involved.

You will find Prof. Desmet´s presentation here. and Prof Schiepek´s presentation here. We have also prepared – in agreement with the presenters – a audio recording of the presentations, which can be viewed / listened to on YouTube.[]

You are welcome to browse all the Single Case Studies that are hosted in the Single Case Archive ( – and you can also register and add to it. 

More about the Time Series will be presented in end of July 27-29, 2020 to the Human Change Summer School conference, at Seeon, Germany.

Of course, the seminar / course to be established with Gunther Schiepek (and hopefully also resulting new single-case studies) will be open for all other interested psychotherapists, and not only to the participants of the EAP- SARC 2020 conference or other EAP members.

Peter Schulthess

Chair of SARC

May 11, 2020

Note: Details of other EAP-SARC seminars and conferences (2014, 2016, 2018) are available on the EAP website (


 Psychotherapy Research: Feb. 2020: doi: 10.1080/10503307.2020.1722329

 Single Case Archive:

 Gunter Schiepek et al., (2020). doi: 10.1002/capr.12300



Psychotherapists are required to engage in extensive personal psychotherapy during their training which is up to seven years duration. Psychotherapists usually have a first degree followed by a professional, highly specialised, theoretical and clinical training which includes research methodology and continuous professional development. The EAP promotes the recognition of common standards of training throughout Europe, and will ensure their mobility across member states.