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Common Factors

Eric R. Benson and Stephen S. Illardi

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Common factors , also known as non-specific factors , refer to the general core components that are present across all forms of therapy regardless of theoretical orientation. These mutual elements account for the therapeutic change found in all treatments, above and beyond that which can be attributed to the technical elements that make a particular approach distinctly different. This equivalence in treatment efficacy was first discussed by Rosenweig in 1936, a point he emphasized by quoting the Dodo bird from Alice in Wonderland , “Everyone has won, and all must have prizes!” In 1975, Luborsky Singer, and Luborsky performed a large-scale review of the psychotherapy outcome literature, presenting initial support for the assertion that all psychotherapies are relatively uniform in terms of effectiveness. Alluding to Rosenweig's initial reference, Luborsky et al. dubbed their controversial conclusion as “The Dodo Verdict.” Prior to The Dodo Verdict, the most notable researcher to develop a substantial body of work examining common factors was Jerome Frank. In his seminal book Persuasion and Healing , he outlined four core components that are present in all successful treatments. Though sometimes criticized for being too broad to measure, the elements identified by Frank continue to remain the benchmark for identifying commonalties across treatments. These four components are: 1. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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