Are some therapists better at facilitating and consolidating sudden gains than others?

Anne Katharina Deisenhofer, Julian A. Rubel, Björn Bennemann, Idan M. Aderka, Wolfgang Lutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Changes during psychotherapy often include sudden symptom improvements, called sudden gains (SGs), which have been identified as being superior to gradual symptom change with regard to treatment success. This study investigates the role of therapists in initiating and/or consolidating SGs. Methods: The analyses are based on a sample of patients (N = 1937) who were seen by 155 therapists and received individual psychotherapy at a university outpatient clinic. First, the therapist effect (TE) on SG was investigated using multilevel modeling (MLM). Second, MLM was used to explore the relative importance of patient and therapist variability in SGs as they relate to outcome. Results: The TE on SGs accounted for 1.8% of variance, meaning that therapists are accountable for inter-individual differences in their patients’ likelihood to experience SGs. Furthermore, results revealed a significant effect of SGs on outcome for both levels, while therapist differences regarding the consolidation of SGs were not significant. Conclusions: The analyses indicated that some therapists are better in facilitating and initiating SGs. The process of triggering SGs seems to be a therapist skill or competence, which opens up an additional pathway to positive outcomes that could be used to improve clinical training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-357
Number of pages15
JournalPsychotherapy Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Society for Psychotherapy Research.


  • Outcome research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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