Nonspecific treatment factors in psychotherapy outcome research

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Abstract

Discusses salient issues raised by W. Wilkins (see record 1980-01498-001). The term nonspecific treatment factors usually refers to several, often unspecified, variables that may influence therapy outcome. The word nonspecific denotes that these factors may extend to many different techniques. Recent research has demonstrated that treatment and control conditions differing from each other in overall efficacy may also differ in such factors as their credibility to the client and in the expectancies for improvement they generate. Relatively high levels of credibility and expectancies for improvement may be inherent in most, if not all, treatments. The task for therapy research is not to demonstrate that treatment operates free from such factors. Rather, the task is to demonstrate that specific treatment techniques considered to carry the burden of client change go beyond the results that can be obtained by implementing procedures that produce change merely because of their relatively high levels of credibility and treatment-generated expectancies. The present article briefly examines the conceptual and methodological issues raised by nonspecific treatment factors and the interpretive problems these factors pose for selected outcome questions. (27 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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