Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Revived call for consensus in the future of psychotherapy
  1. Averi N Gaines1,
  2. Marvin R Goldfried2,
  3. Michael J Constantino1
  1. 1Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Averi N Gaines, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA; averingaines{at}


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

Statistics from


  • Contributors ANG, MRG and MJC all made substantive intellectual contributions to the content of the manuscript, in accordance with ethical guidelines for order of authorship.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.