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Revived call for consensus in the future of psychotherapy

Abstract

The emblem of success in psychotherapy research and practice has long been innovation. Although such ingenuity is commendable, it has nonetheless perpetuated fragmentation across the field. At least four decades ago, it was suggested that achieving consensus on what constitutes psychotherapy’s theoretical, empirical, and practical ‘core’ might allow the discipline to evolve beyond its siloed state, as is reflective of mature science. Yet, division remains the rule versus exception, owing in large part to power struggles among disparate schools of therapy and quarrels over whether theory-specific or theory-common factors most account for therapeutic change. We outline here a vision for psychotherapy’s future that is defined by consensus rather than disintegration. Namely, we reiterate the need for the field to invest in clinical strategies that transcend ostensibly incompatible theoretical models. We also argue that psychotherapy research should build on the growing evidence for such clinical strategies in an effort to establish core, evidence-based principles of therapeutic change. We then discuss how establishing consensus will require reconciliation among the mounting evidence for flexible, principle-informed practice with the current realities of training, dissemination, and implementation paradigms. Finally, we articulate ways in which practicing clinicians will serve a vital role in carrying out, and amending as needed, actionable efforts toward psychotherapy consensus.

  • Consensus
  • Psychotherapy

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