2017 James McKeen Cattell Fellow

Robert J. DeRubeis

University of Pennsylvania

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Robert DeRubeis is internationally known for his innovative and influential psychotherapy treatment outcomes research. His work identifying the underlying causal mechanisms of psychotherapy as well as the methodological sophistication of his research has established beyond doubt the efficacy of psychological treatments for depression and has clarified what works for whom and why.

In a series of studies that began in the 1980s while he was still a graduate student, DeRubeis showed that cognitive therapy is as efficacious as antidepressant medications for the treatment of depression, and that, unlike medications, has an enduring effect that protects against relapse. He has also shown that patients’ response to cognitive therapy is driven by their adherence to concrete behaviors specified by theory rather than generic nonspecific relationship factors common to all psychotherapies. His creativity and rigorous approach to research is unprecedented.

DeRubeis’s groundbreaking investigation of common antidepressant medications for patients with different levels of depression led to his finding that medications are beneficial for severely depressed patients, but less so for patients with mild or moderate symptoms. Further, DeRubeis works closely with neuroscientists examining the neural mechanisms of cognitive therapy versus medication for depression. The application of DeRubeis’s research findings has clear and direct influence on clinical practice and the treatment of depression.