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Psychol Addict Behav. 2000 Mar;14(1):6-18.

Rediscovering fire: small interventions, large effects.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque 87131-1161, USA.


Unexpected findings are often the spark for new discoveries and theories. A puzzle emerged from a series of unanticipated findings over 3 decades, indicating that for problem drinkers (a) relatively brief interventions can trigger significant change, (b) increasing the intensity of treatment does not consistently improve outcome, (c) therapist empathy can be a potent predictor of client change, and (d) a single empathic counseling session can substantially enhance the outcome of subsequent treatment. These phenomena are considered in light of other findings in the addictions-treatment-outcome literature. There is, at present, no cogent explanation for the efficacy of brief interventions. An ancient construct is explored as one possible factor in how some brief encounters may exert large effects in human change.

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