Individual-Specific Animated Profiles of Mental Health

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How important is the timing of the pretreatment evaluation? If we consider mental health to be a relatively fixed condition, the specific timing (e.g., day, hour) of the evaluation is immaterial and often determined on the basis of technical considerations. Indeed, the fundamental assumption underlying the vast majority of psychotherapy research and practice is that mental health is a state that can be captured in a one-dimensional snapshot. If this fundamental assumption, underlying 80 years of empirical research and practice, is incorrect, it may help explain why for decades psychotherapy failed to rise above the 50% efficacy rate in the treatment of mental-health disorders, especially depression, a heterogeneous disorder and the leading cause of disability worldwide. Based on recent studies suggesting within-individual dynamics, this article proposes that mental health and its underlying therapeutic mechanisms have underlying intrinsic dynamics that manifest across dimensions. Computational psychotherapy is needed to develop individual-specific pretreatment animated profiles of mental health. Such individual-specific animated profiles are expected to improve the ability to select the optimal treatment for each patient, devise adequate treatment plans, and adjust them on the basis of ongoing evaluations of mental-health dynamics, creating a new understanding of therapeutic change as a transition toward a more adaptive animated profile.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Early online date20 Feb 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 20 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • depression
  • mechanisms of change
  • mental health
  • psychotherapy
  • state-like
  • trait-like
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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