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Psychol Bull. 2004 Jul;130(4):664-68; author reply 677-83.

Psychotherapy process: the missing link: comment on Westen, Novotny, and Thompson-Brenner (2004).

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Newton, MA 02458, USA.


In this comment, J. S. Ablon and C. Marci argue that focusing on the empirical validation of manualized treatment packages misses important information about what is efficacious about a given treatment. Psychotherapy process has demonstrated that treatments may promote change in ways other than their underlying theories claim. Manualized therapies may appear distinct despite important similarities in dyadic interaction. These functional similarities in the emergent transactional process between therapist and patient may help explain the difficulty demonstrating differential outcomes across brands of brief therapy. Rather than focus on treatment packages targeting patient symptomatology, the authors recommend a shift in focus to the empirical validation of change processes coconstructed by therapist and patient in naturalistic settings.

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