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Clinician Interventions and Participant Characteristics That Foster Adaptive Patient Expectations for Psychotherapy and Psychotherapeutic Change


Patients’ expectations about the efficacy and nature of psychotherapy have long been considered important common treatment factors, and the empirical literature has largely supported this perspective. In this practice-oriented review, we examine the research on the association between patients’ psycho- therapy expectations and both adaptive treatment processes and outcomes. We also examine the research on specific psychotherapist interventions and patient and psychotherapist characteristics that influence the development of positive expectations for psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic change. The primary function of this review is to derive applied clinical strategies from the extant empirical literature in order to help clinicians in their attempts to address and influence their patients’ psychotherapy-related expectations. Although the literature is not yet conclusive in supporting such strategies, we place the results in theoretical, clinical, and empirical contexts to suggest the most likely best practices at this time, and to stimulate further research on the expectation construct.

Keywords: patient outcome expectations, patient treatment expectations, practice review, common factors

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Constantino, M. J., Ametrano, R. M., & Greenberg, R. P. (2012). Clinician interventions and participant characteristics that foster adaptive patient expectations for psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic change. Psychotherapy, 49(4), 557-569. doi: 10.1037/a0029440



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