There is considerable support for the effectiveness of psychotherapies regardless of their individual theoretical underpinnings. They all evidence substantial positive outcomes, particularly if they contain common elements. These include a therapeutic relationship within an appropriate setting, a rationale for why the client is unhappy or distressed and in need of therapy, and procedures for effecting positive change. We interpret these common elements as a process of learning that promotes the client's independence, friendship formation and maintenance, competence, and physical health. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.