Case Report: Oxytocin and Its Association With Psychotherapy Process and Outcome

Ariella Grossman-Giron, Dana Tzur Bitan, Sigal Zilcha-Mano, Uri Nitzan, Shlomo Mendlovic, Hagai Maoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The potential of Oxytocin (OT) as a facilitator of psychotherapy has been previously acknowledged, nonetheless, randomized controlled trials thus far have not yielded conclusive results. One approach suggested to clarify empirical inconsistencies is to refine the study hypotheses and data collection process by utilizing an in-depth idiographic exploration of the investigated phenomena. In this case illustration we provide an in-depth analysis comparing two patients hospitalized in a closed psychiatric ward with depression and undergoing psychotherapy twice a week. These two patients were randomly allocated to receive either OT or placebo, twice a day for a period of 4 weeks. Both patients completed longitudinal assessments of process and outcome measures, and therapists' clinical notes were extracted and reviewed. Reliable clinical change was calculated for all outcome and process measures. The results indicated that the patient receiving OT showed significant improvement in interpersonal distress, as well as in anxiety and depression symptoms, while the placebo patient showed no significant change during the study period. Furthermore, while both patients showed no significant changes in the therapeutic alliance ratings, the therapist of the OT patient regularly reported positive changes in alliance in the medical notes, while no such report was observed in the placebo patient. These results suggest that changes produced by OT administration may be more noticeable by the therapist. Implications for future studies aimed at assessing the effect of OT on psychotherapy process and outcome are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number691055
Pages (from-to)691055
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
StatePublished - 14 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the American Psychological Foundation for their support of this study. We also like to thank the research team of Shalvata MHC participating in this study: Halil Qashuak, Maya Ermishin, Judah Mosa, Ori Ferster, Vered Tzameret, Shani Shalev, Olga Arad, Igor Rikelman, Muhamad kassem, Adham Iraqe, Mira Cohen, and Merav agsham.

Funding Information:
This project was supported by a grant from the American Psychological Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Grossman-Giron, Tzur Bitan, Zilcha-Mano, Nitzan, Mendlovic and Maoz.


  • affective disorders
  • case report
  • outcome
  • oxytocin
  • psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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