Therapist Common Factors and Changes in Client Anger Management in the Context of Couple Therapy

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The present study investigated the associations between therapist common factors behaviors and changes in client anger control in the context of couple therapy. Research on psychotherapy suggests that common factors are more strongly associated with therapy outcome than model-specific interventions. However, research on the effects of specific common factors on therapeutic outcomes is lacking. This study was a secondary analysis of data from 40 couples that presented with mild to moderate physical and psychological partner aggression and who received couple therapy at a university family therapy clinic. The study examined the associations between five therapist common factor behaviors (warmth, empathy, validation, systemically-based techniques, and session structuring) coded from couples’ fourth couple therapy session and changes in clients’ anger control, as well as the role of gender as a moderator. No main effects were found, and one significant interaction (session structure and gender) was found to be associated with improvements in anger control for males. Implications of these findings are discussed.