Common factors and our sacred models

J Marital Fam Ther. 2004 Apr;30(2):113-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2004.tb01228.x.


In this article we argue that much of what makes one treatment effective is common to other forms of effective treatment--both in psychotherapy generally and in marital and family therapy (MFT) specifically. Yet MFT has largely ignored the research on common factors. In this article we present a moderate view of common factors that, while repudiating the extreme position that there is no difference among treatment models, stresses that there are common factors and mechanisms of change that undergird most forms of successful treatment. These common mechanisms of change should be given more attention in our field, which has tended to emphasize the uniqueness of our sacred models. We delineate some of the major common factors, review the empirical evidence for them, and discuss implications of adapting a common factors informed approach to family therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards
  • Family Therapy* / methods
  • Family Therapy* / standards
  • Humans
  • Marital Therapy* / methods
  • Marital Therapy* / standards
  • Models, Psychological
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • United States