Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Clinical: Approaches · Group therapy · Techniques · Types of problem · Areas of specialism · Taxonomies · Therapeutic issues · Modes of delivery · Model translation project · Personal experiences ·

Bruce Wampold is a clinical psychologist at the University of Wisconsin

In 2001, he published the book The Great Psychotherapy Debate.[1] In it Wampold, who has a degree in mathematics and who went on to train as a counseling psychologist, reported that

  1. psychotherapy is indeed effective,
  2. the type of treatment is not a factor,
  3. the theoretical bases of the techniques used, and the strictness of adherence to those techniques are both not factors,
  4. the therapist's strength of belief in the efficacy of the technique is a factor,
  5. the personality of the therapist is a significant factor,
  6. the alliance between the patient(s) and the therapist (meaning affectionate and trusting feelings toward the therapist, motivation and collaboration of the client, and empathic response of the therapist) is a key factor.

Wampold therefore concludes that "we do not know why psychotherapy works".

Although the Great Psychotherapy Debate dealt primarily with data on depressed patients, subsequent articles have made similar findings for post-traumatic stress disorder[2] and youth disorders.[3] There have also been studies of Panic Disorder, where treatment effectiveness is measured in the abatement of panic attacks. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy has been found to be as effective as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for immediate relief and more effective over the long term.[4][5]

Some report that by attempting to program or manualize treatment, psychotherapists may be reducing efficacy, although the unstructured approach of many psychotherapists cannot appeal to those patients motivated to solve their difficulties through the application of specific techniques different from their past "mistakes."

The common factors theory states that all therapies in psychology are equally effective because of the common factors they share. The only causal agents in treatment are the common factors and the specific techniques that are unique to treatment strategies are irrelevant.[6][7][8][9][10]


In 2007 he received the APA Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research.


See also[]


  1. The Great Psychotherapy Debate Bruce E. Wampold, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison . Retrieved December 2006.
  2. Benish, S. G., Imel, Z. E., \& Wampold, B. E. (in press). The Relative Efficacy of Bona Fide Psychotherapies for Treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Direct Comparisons Clinical Psychology Review.
  3. Miller, S. D., Wampold, B. E., & Varhely, K. (In press). Direct comparisons of treatment modalities for youth disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychotherapy Research
  4. Milrod, B., Leon, A., Busch, F., Rudden, M., Schwalberg, M., Clarkin, J., Aronson, A., Singer, M. Turchin, W, Klass, E., Graf, E., Teres, J., Shear, M. (2007), A randomized controlled clinical trial of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for panic disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164:265-272.
  5. Blechner, M. (2007) Approaches to panic attacks. Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 9:93-102.
  6. Wampold, BE (2001). The great psychotherapy debate:models, methods, and findings.
  7. Mahwah,NJ;Erlbaum,L;Horvath,AO;Bedi,RP (2002). The al-liance.
  8. Martin,DJ;Garske,JP;Davis,MK (2000). "Relation of the therapeutic alliance with outcome and other variables: A meta- analytic review". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology: 438-450.
  9. Baldwin,SA;Wampold,BE;Imel,ZE (2007). "Untangling the alliance-outcome correlation: Exploring the relative importance of therapist and patient variability in the alliance". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 75: 842-852.
  10. Klein,D.N., Schwartz,J.E., Santiago,N.J., Vivian,D., Vocisano,C., Castonguay,L.G., et al. (2003). "Therapeutic alliance in depres- sion treatment: Controlling for prior change and patient characteristics". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 71: 997-1006.