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International Project on the Effectiveness of Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy Training (IPEPPT) (7/04)

Robert Elliott, Scientific Chair (University of Toledo-USA)
Alberto Zucconi, Coordinator (University of Siena-Italy)


  1. In general, to encourage systematic research on psychotherapy and psychotherapy training in a variety of training institutes and university-based training clinics.
  2. To construct an agreed-upon common core protocol for evaluating therapy outcome.
  3. To construct an agreed-upon common core protocol for evaluating therapy training outcome.
  4. To facilitate the development of specific treatment and training outcome protocols for particular therapy approaches.
  5. To carry out an international collaborative study of therapy outcome in training institutes and clinics.
  6. To carry out an international collaborative study of therapy training outcomes.

Brief Description

This international collaborative project has the long-range goal of improving psychotherapy and psychotherapy training in a broad range of theoretical approaches to treatment by encouraging research in therapy training institutes and university-based training clinics. The project has two components:

1. Practice-based Research in Training Sites. The first component has the goal of facilitating practice-based research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy in universities and training institutes in Europe, North American and elsewhere. Research on psychotherapy process and outcome is essential for understanding and improving the psychotherapy practice. Being able to use research and research methods is an important aspect of competence as a therapist. However, in order for research to be useful for therapists, it must be relevant to therapy. Randomized clinical trials are generally impractical for practicing therapists to carry out and tend not to be useful for understanding or improving therapy. Instead, what are needed are practice-based research methods, including inexpensive and easy-to-use process and outcome measures of key therapy elements (e.g., therapeutic alliance, client problems or symptom distress); flexible single-case research methods; and practitioner research networks (PRNs). The best way to learn these methods is to use them as part of one’s basic training as a psychotherapist; hence the focus here on training sites. This goal will be pursued via (a) the development of a common core protocol for assessing therapy process and outcome than can be used across a range of theoretical orientations and modalities; (b) the creation of a comprehensive data-base and clearing house of measures of therapy process, outcome and change processes, suitable for assessing a wide range of therapeutic approaches; (c) education in and dissemination of straight-forward, practice-based therapy research measures and designs to training institutions. We propose to use a “star” design for this component: a common protocol shared by all orientations (the main body of the star), to serve as a “common metric”, plus specialized protocols for different therapy approaches (the star rays).

2. Evaluation of Training Effectiveness. The second goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of therapy training in university and institute-based training programs. Relatively little is understood about the effectiveness of therapy training, in part due to technical and logistic difficulties. These difficulties include, among other things, the absence of a agreed-upon measures of therapist functioning and the need to measure therapist change longitudinally over several years of training. Promising directions for this component include (a) mixed cross-section/longitudinal designs following early trainees and recent program graduates over time; (b) performance measures of therapist interpersonal skills (e.g., methods developed by Tim Anderson at Ohio University in the USA); (c) David Orlinsky’s recent formulation of a comprehensive evidence-based model of therapist effective and ineffective practice patterns, measurable using the Collaborative Research Network’s (CRN) Development of Psychotherapists Common Core Questionnaire, which is available in 16 languages.

Participating Organizations

The IPEPPT was formally initiated in June 2004 by the Italian Coordinamento Nazionale Scuole di Psicoterapia (CNSP; numbering more than 5000 psychotherapists), and by the 21 psychotherapy associations belonging to the Italian Federation of Psychotherapy Associations (FIAP; numbering more than 10000 psychotherapists). At this point, discussions are also underway with training institutes and universities in France, Belgium, Scotland, and the USA.

Over the next two years, in consultation with participating training organizations, the Scientific Steering Committee will develop proposals for the core research protocol, and theory-specific extended protocols. In two years time, the Committee will organize an international symposium for the purpose of agreeing on the core research protocol and the variables to use for each psychotherapeutic orientation

Organizational Structure

An overall Scientific Steering Committee is being organized and will consist of internationally-known and well-published therapy and therapy training researchers. To date David Orlinsky (University of Chicago; Collaborative Research Network for the Study of the Development of Psychotherapists) and Louis Castonguay (Pennsylvania State University; Pennsylvania Psychological Association Practitioner Research Network) have agreed to serve on the Scientific Steering Committee. The remaining members of the Scientific Steering Committee will be from Europe and elsewhere. In addition, we plan to have National Organizing Committees, to facilitate research within particular national groups; National Scientific Advisory Committees, to serve consultative functions; and Orientation Scientific Committees (e.g., Client-Centered-Experiential, Psychodynamic, Systemic) to develop the orientation-specific research protocols.


At this point we are collecting expressions of interest and commitments to participate in the planning stage of this project. If you or your training organization are interested in participating in this project, please contact Robert Elliott (Robert.Elliott@utoledo.edu) or Alberto Zucconi (azucconi@iacp.it).


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Last modified: 18 April 2008