We examined 17 meta-analyses of comparisons of active treatments with each other, in contrast to the more usual comparisons of active treatments with controls. These meta-analyses yielded a mean uncorrected absolute effect size for Cohen's d of .20, which is small and non-significant (an equivalent Pearson's r would be. 10). The smallness of this effect size confirms Rosenzweig's supposition in 1936 about the likely results of such comparisons. In the present sample, when such differences were corrected for the therapeutic allegiance of the researchers involved in comparing the different psychotherapies, these differences tend to become even further reduced in size and significance, as shown previously by Luborsky, Diguer, Seligman, et al. (1999) .

Data provide evidence for the Dodo bird verdict.[24] Generally speaking, common factors are responsible for patient improvement instead of any component of a specific treatment.[9][24] Researchers such as Wampold and Luborsky continue to support this claim in recent articles published in the Behavioral Therapist. Wampold et al. 2010 refutes claims made by Siev et al. 2009 that Wampold 2009 made errors in research. Wampold et al. 2009, suggests that people need to “accept the importance of the alliance and therapists and remain committed to developing and improving treatments.”[24] Wampold continues by saying that techniques could be beneficial in psychotherapy because they are the easiest variables to manipulate. These variables can act to change alliance and other common factors. Common factors can then be closely monitored and carefully distributed to patients via the therapist.[24]

The dodo bird verdict is a debate in psychotherapy that has spanned nearly a century. Initially proposed by Rozenzweig (1936), it states that all psychotherapies are essentially equivalent and accomplish the same goal of human change. Although largely abandoned after the emergence of treatment-outcome studies, it resurfaced in the mid 1970s as researchers began empirically examining the comparative effects of psychological treatments. In 1980, with the development of meta-analysis, the debate peaked as researchers argued for or against the verdict, often citing the same empirical data. Today the argument continues but the debate is often focused on the research methodology used, both in conducting the research and interpreting findings.

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What’s really helpful, then, are the common factors that bind the psychotherapies together. No matter what a psychotherapy is called and what techniques it uses there are some basics that transcend all approaches. All will inspire people and combat demoralization. All are emotionally confiding. All explain what’s happening and what to do to address the symptoms. Last and most significantly, all will understand that healing takes place within a strong and stable therapeutic relationship . Your counselor must be authentic, empathic, and hold genuine positive regard for you. Ultimately it’s the bond between you and your counselor that is more predictive of success in counseling than any specific technique. This is why I strongly urge you to screen your counselor. Ask questions. Learn about their approach and learn about their competence. Get to know him/her. Most importantly ask yourself how comfortable you feel with your counselor. Is this a person you can trust, open up to, and believe has your best interests at heart? If you can answer “yes” to these questions you will be well on your way.


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