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4 Factors of Effective Therapy For Clinical Psychology Students and Psychology Professionals

clinical psychology and psychotherapy podcast episode

Within clinical psychology, the topic of effective therapy is difficult to answer because what’s effective for one person, might not be effective for another. Therefore, whilst this topic touches on topics like Formulation, it turns out there are globally agreed markers for whether or not a course of psychotherapy has been effective or not. That’s today’s clinical psychology focus.

This episode has been sponsored by Clinical Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

4 Factors of Effective Therapy

According to a new study (links in the reference section), there are four factors or pillars that are globally recognised as what makes for effective therapy.

Personally, think this is extremely useful considering how difficult therapy can be to judged because as I mentioned earlier, a particular psychotherapy might work for one person, but not another. Or it could work well in one area for one person and terribly for another person.

Therefore, the entire point of today’s podcast episode is to increase all of our awareness about what makes “good” therapy so we can potentially use this in the future.


There are lots of examples in psychotherapy of giving our client an increase of self-knowledge. For example, getting them to understand their behaviour is maladaptive, getting them to realise their behaviour might need to change as well as getting them to realise some of the damaging relationships they have in their life.

As a result, self-knowledge is about getting our clients to understand themselves better and have a clear view of themselves and their life. As well as they’re aware of different perspectives and feelings and they understand their own emotions.

That last thing is critical in therapy because the maladaptive behaviour of “lashing out” tends to be a maladaptive response to a situation and/or emotion they don’t know how to handle.

Overall, self-knowledge and expanding a client’s accurate self-awareness as well as self-acceptance is a great sign of effective therapy.


If you’re done or read Social Psychology, then you know that the self is made up of different components and selves. Which can sometimes lead to decreases in mental health if people don’t accept certain parts of them, or it can lead to a vicious cycle.

Such as if we take depression, when a person gets depression then the depression could arguably be a part of the self. Then if a person doesn’t accept the depression as part of the self and they believe they’re messed up and they’re diseased. This leads to them not accepting themselves and this can lead to further decreases in mental health because they feel guilty about being messed up.

Of course they aren’t but that’s why self-acceptance is so important.

Another example is if the client is gay or a part of the LGBT+ community and they live in a conservative or non-accepting family. Then they might not be able to accept themselves and you don’t need to do too much internet reading to discovering the horrific mental health side effects this can have.

Overall, when therapy has been effective, our client’s ability to accept all of themselves increase.

Consideration Of Others

The description in the study is technical so I’m going to make it more understandable.

Therefore, consideration of others involves our client’s feelings of empathy and their ability to understand and consider others. In terms of their viewpoints, perspectives and feelings, of course the client doesn’t have to agree with them so it’s important for them to show mutual respect to others.

Some people may be more familiar with this as “Intersubjectivity”, where people do this together and make room for each other with mutual respect and understanding.

Relationship Quality:

This is probably the easiest mark of effective therapy because this is clearly seen in most therapies. For example, systemic therapy is based on improving relationships in the family system.

Therefore, effective therapy can be seen as an improvement in our client’s relationships and they can get greater satisfaction within them. This links to other topics because without consideration of others and empathy this can’t happen amongst others.


Whilst every therapy should ideally be individualised for each client (Formulation in Psychotherapy), I hope these 4 factors can help you judge if a particular therapy was successful so you can learn from experience and help more people in the future.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out:

Clinical Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback, large print and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

Clinical Psychology Reference:

Chui, H., Chong, E. S. K., Atzil-Slonim, D., Sahin, Z., Solomonov, N., Minges, M. V., Kuprian, N., & Barber, J. P. (2020). Beyond symptom reduction: Development and validation of the Complementary Measure of Psychotherapy Outcome (COMPO). Journal of Counseling Psychology. Advance online publication.

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