Being Systematic and Maybe Even Scientific About Planning Psychotherapy Research

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Doss (this issue) makes many excellent suggestions for enhancing the conceptual precision and methodological rigor of psychotherapy research. His article argues convincingly for a need to be systematic and forward-looking in organizing sequential programs of therapy studies, in order that investigators may identify the most powerful change mechanisms and change processes. This commentary addresses the possibility that substantial improvement in therapy outcomes may require supplementing Doss's recommendation of studying the change mechanisms affected by current treatment protocols. One way to do so might be to utilize “positive psychology” research by identifying first the characteristics of high-functioning people and then pilot-testing means of enhancing or building those attributes. Strategic recommendations about research planning ultimately should be themselves evaluated empirically.

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