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date: 11 June 2023

Common Factors in Psychotherapylocked

Common Factors in Psychotherapylocked

  • Julia Browne, Julia BrowneDuke University
  • Corinne CatherCorinne CatherHarvard University
  •  and Kim T. MueserKim T. MueserBoston University


Common factors, or characteristics that are present across psychotherapies, have long been considered important to fostering positive psychotherapy outcomes. The contextual model offers an overarching theoretical framework for how common factors facilitate therapeutic change. Specifically, this model posits that improvements occur through three primary pathways: (a) the real relationship, (b) expectations, and (c) specific ingredients. The most-well-studied common factors, which also are described within the contextual model, include the therapeutic alliance, therapist empathy, positive regard, genuineness, and client expectations. Empirical studies have demonstrated that a strong therapeutic alliance, higher ratings of therapist empathy, positive regard, genuineness, and more favorable outcome expectations are related to improved treatment outcomes. Yet, the long-standing debate continues regarding whether psychotherapy outcomes are most heavily determined by these common factors or by factors specific to the type of therapy used. There have been calls for an integration of the two perspectives and a shift toward evaluating mechanisms as a way to move the field forward. Nonetheless, the common factors are valuable in treatment delivery and should be a focus in delivering psychotherapy.


  • Clinical Psychology: Disorders and Therapies

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