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Ten good outcome and ten poor outcome psychotherapy cases were compared to investigate whether or not the temporal stability and flexibility of their process variables can predict their outcomes. Each participant was monitored daily using the Therapy Process Questionnaire (TPQ), which has 43 items and seven sub-scales, and responses over time were analyzed in terms of correlation robustness and correlation variability across the TPQ sub-scales. “Correlation robustness” and “correlation variability” are two basic characteristics of any correlation matrix: the first is calculated as the sum of the absolute values of Pearson correlation coefficients, the second as the standard deviation of Pearson correlation coefficients. The results demonstrated that the patients within the poor outcome group had lower values on both variables, suggesting lower stability and flexibility. Furthermore, a higher number of cycles of increase and decrease in correlation robustness and variability of the TPQ sub-scales was observed within good outcome psychotherapies, suggesting that, these cycles can be considered as process-markers of good-outcomes. These results provide support for the validity of these quantitative process-parameters, correlation robustness and variability, in predicting psychotherapeutic outcomes. Moreover, the results lend support to the common clinical experience of alternating periods of flexibility and integration being beneficial to good psychotherapeutic processes.


This article was originally published in Acta Psychologica, volume 227, in 2022.


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