Brief Supportive Psychotherapy for Depression
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Expires on Jul 29, 2026
Member: $100.00
Non-Member: $150.00
Medical Student: $75.00
Resident Fellow Member: $75.00
Credit Offered
4 CME Credits
4 COP Credits

Available: May 30th, 2023 - July 29th, 2023


APA Members - $100 
Residents/Medical Students - $75 
Non- APA Members - $150

Supportive psychotherapy has a long tradition and is widely practiced. It has acquired an undeservedly poor reputation as a mediocre treatment and the term has been loosely used in psychotherapy research as a weak control condition. Years ago, we defined Brief Supportive Psychotherapy (BSP) in a manual as a time-limited, affect-focused, “common factors” treatment for depression research studies. In testing it we found, to our surprise, that in nine successive studies it generally worked as well as the fancier therapies to which it was compared. In other words, BSP is a powerful brief treatment for major depression. The common factors of psychotherapy, defined decades ago by Carl Rogers and Jerome Frank, comprise factors like emotional arousal, helping a patient to feel understood, building a strong treatment alliance through therapeutic ritual and communication of expertise, realistic optimism, and success experiences. A stripped down, elemental therapy, BSP focuses on the patient’s emotional life, helping the patient to tolerate and understand feelings rather than viewing them as problems. The therapist sketches an emotional portrait of the patient and uses this as a therapeutic guide. This approach is simple in concept yet can be hard to do well. Patients like and benefit from it, and dropout rates have been low. This course rehabilitates supportive psychotherapy for attendees, reviewing its checkered history, shabby reputation, and contrastingly potent research performance. The bulk of the course focuses on describing and using its “common factor” elements and particularly its affect focus. Participants will learn not only the use of brief supportive psychotherapy as a focused treatment but also its role as the basis of all good common factor psychotherapies. Particularly in an era when therapy risks becoming too mechanical and intellectualized, awareness of emotional techniques hones psychotherapeutic skills. Course participants may want to but are not required to read the newly published BSP manual, Brief Supportive Psychotherapy, published by Oxford University Press.


2 hours asynchronous, 2 hours live

Live Session: June 7th, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm (EST)

Learning Objectives

  • Distinguish the common factors of psychotherapy.
  • Understand how to use affect and emotion in psychotherapy.
  • Evaluate the evidence base for brief supportive psychotherapy.

Target Audience

Medical Students, Residents/Fellows, Psychiatrists, Psychologists

Estimate Time to Complete

Estimated Duration: 4 hours
Program Start Date: May 30, 2023
Program End Date: July 29, 2023

Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in Q&A.

How to Earn Credit

After evaluating the program, participants will be provided with an opportunity to claim hours of participation and print an official CME certificate (physicians) or certificate of participation (non-physicians) showing the event date and hours earned.

Continuing Education Credit

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The APA designates this enduring CME activity for a maximum of 4 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Faculty and Planner Disclosures

The American Psychiatric Association adheres to the ACCME’s Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Medical Education. Any individuals in a position to control the content of a CME activity — including faculty, planners, reviewers or others — are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible entities (commercial interests). All relevant conflicts of interest have been mitigated prior to the commencement of the activity.


  • John Markowitz, MD, Psychiatrist at Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. Has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.


  • John Markowitz, MD, Psychiatrist at Colombia University Department of Psychiatry. Has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Accessibility for Participants with Disabilities

The American Psychiatric Association is committed to ensuring accessibility of its website to people with disabilities. Please contact the American Psychiatric Association at 202-559-3900, if you require assistance seven (7) business days prior to the start of a live webinar.

Technical Requirements

This internet-based CME activity is best experienced using any of the following:

  • The latest and 2nd latest public versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari
  • Internet Explorer 11+

This Web site requires that JavaScript and session cookies be enabled. Certain activities may require additional software to view multimedia, presentation, or printable versions of the content. These activities will be marked as such and will provide links to the required software. That software may be: Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Windows Media Player.

Optimal System Configuration:

  • Browser: Google Chrome (latest and 2nd latest version), Safari (latest and 2nd latest version), Internet Explorer 11.0+, Firefox (latest and 2nd latest version), or Microsoft Edge (latest and 2nd latest version)
  • Operating System: Windows versions 8.1+, Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) +, Android (latest and 2nd latest version), or iOS/iPad OS (latest and 2nd latest version)
  • Internet Connection: 1 Mbps or higher

Minimum Requirements:

  • Windows PC: Windows 8.1 or higher; 1 GB (for 32-bit)/2 GB (for 64-bit) or higher RAM; Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver; audio playback with speakers for programs with video content
  • Macintosh: Mac OS X 10.5 or higher with latest updates installed; Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor; 512 MB or higher RAM; audio playback with speakers for programs with video content

For assistance: Contact for questions about this activity | Contact for technical assistance

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