Beyond the “Psychological Placebo”: Specifying the Nonspecific in Psychotherapy


Address correspondence to Andri S. Bjornsson, Rhode Island Hospital, 1 Hoppin Street, Providence, RI 02903. E-mail:


[Clin Psychol Sci Prac 18: 113–118, 2011]

There are two major shortcomings in current psychotherapy research: the standards that are used to evaluate psychotherapy (especially the way control conditions are set up in outcome research) are often not acceptable, and nonspecific factors have been largely neglected (especially in cognitive and behavior therapies). I argue that theories of psychotherapy need to specify further the role of nonspecific factors in the development and maintenance of different disorders, and how nonspecific treatment factors can be made to be more effective in therapy, often by interacting with certain specific factors. This may be the major front in the future of psychotherapy research.