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Change in Psychotherapy: A Plea for No More “Nonspecific” and False Dichotomies


Address correspondence to Louis G. Castonguay, Department of Psychology, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16803. E-mail:


What factors are responsible for change in psychotherapy? We welcome those who question the primacy frequently given to relationship variables in explaining client improvement, as well as the delineation of cognitive-behavioral oriented treatments found to be effective for several disorders. However, we are also concerned about the terminology used (i.e., “nonspecific variables”), as well as with the dichotomy of variables (techniques vs. relationship) that was emphasized. Although such ways of defining and categorizing process variables are predominant in the field, we argue that they may fail to do justice to the complexity of the process of change.