Common Factors of Change in Couple Therapy
One of the most signifi cant developments in couple therapy in the 21st century has been the research and theoretical debate about common factors of change in couple therapy. A review of the couple and family therapy history, particularly the fi rst four decades, reveals a strong emphasis on the distinctiveness of therapy models rather than what they had in common (Sprenkle, Blow, & Dickey, 1999). Furthermore, a determined emphasis over the past 30-40 years on establishing a strong research base to support the effectiveness of couple therapy resulted in the empirical testing of a diverse array of therapy models and a discipline-wide “arms race” to determine which approach was most effective. The good news is that outcome studies have consistently demonstrated that couple therapy is effective compared to no treatment (Shadish & Baldwin, 2002, 2009). However, the results did not produce a clear winner, with all models tested showing effectiveness, and no specifi c model emerging as superior to the others. Researchers and clinicians alike wondered if there were variables associated with positive therapy outcomes that were independent of specifi c models of therapy. In other words, are there factors of change common across models of therapy that account for therapeutic effectiveness, rather than the unique aspects of the models themselves?