Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness


What factors matter most to the success of the therapy?

There is a large literature on the predictors to treatment outcome in psychotherapy, in other words, what factors contribute to the success or failure of psychotherapy. Both therapist and patient factors contribute. Among therapist factors, personality variables such as genuineness and empathy (as perceived by the patient) are very important. Positive expectations of therapy outcome are also important. If the therapist believes that the therapy can help, this contributes to a positive outcome. Among patient variables, motivation to change, hope, and positive expectations of the therapy promote positive results. General functioning level and degree of social support also contribute to therapy outcome. Patients who function better in the world and have more supportive relationships tend to do better in therapy. Many studies also stress the centrality of the therapeutic alliance. In other words, when both patient and therapist feel a positive bond and have shared goals for therapy, the therapy is more likely to succeed.


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